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The 2017 German Raw Material Efficiency Award Goes to REProMag

Steinbeis 2i acted as partner to the EU project

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy awards the German Raw Material Efficiency Award for outstanding examples of products, processes, and services that make efficient use of materials. It also recognizes research findings with a strong bearing on business application. As project coordinator and representative of the REProMag consortium, in January OBE Ohnmacht & Baumgärtner GmbH & Co. KG from Ispringen was given the award for the EUsponsored project (REProMag, H2020 GA, #636881). The consortium of 14 European research and industrial partners – including Steinbeis 2i – developed an innovative and resource-saving technique for producing permanent magnets out of recycled rare earths, also demonstrating the suitability of the method to important industrial applications.

Rare-earth permanent magnets are considered the strongest type of magnets and are used in electric motors in engines, elevator sensors, actuators found in medical devices, grippers mounted on machines, and in the hard disks of computers. Rare-earth materials are difficult to source, however, so extraction in large quantities is correspondingly expensive. Furthermore, until now these materials have almost exclusively been sourced in Asia. They will be an extremely important part of future technological developments, for example in electric cars and renewable energy. Thanks to a production method developed by the consortium called shaping, debinding, sintering (SDS), it is now possible to produce complex shapes and customer- specific parts cost-effectively offering a significantly higher level of material efficiency. The process used by REProMag makes it possible to recycle the materials used in rare-earth magnets. This provides an important boost to the recycling of this technologically highly important raw material. Steinbeis 2i was responsible for managing the administrative side of the project, for facilitating exchange within the consortium, for managing the exploitation of results, and for sharing, communicating, and supporting insights gained by the alliance members in terms of intellectual property rights.