End-Of-Life Wind Turbines in the EU : An Estimation of the NdFeB-Magnets and Containing Rare Earth Elements in the Anthropogenic Stock of Germany and Denmark

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Sammanfattning: Securing rare earth elements (REE) for a stable supply require sustainable management strategies in Europe due to a missing local primary production and a dependence on China as the main producer of REE. These elements, like neodymium (Nd) and dysprosium (Dy), are contained in permanent magnets (PM) (mostly NdFeB-magnets) in wind turbines. Addressing the question whether PM-material, Nd- and Dy-contents from wind turbines could help to meet future demands of REE in Europe while reducing simultaneously the import dependence, the purpose of the present work was to analyze the urban mining opportunities, recovery - and recycling potentials for REE from end-of-life (EoL) wind turbines. This thesis aimed to identify current and upcoming stocks as well as material flows of the PM and their containing REE in the wind energy sector. Two European countries, Germany and Denmark, were chosen as case studies to be compared based on created future scenarios and the modeling of the theoretical recycling potential of Nd and Dy in both countries. It could have been identified that the German anthropogenic stock contains greater amounts of NdFeB-magnets and REE compared to the Danish stock. Overall it could be concluded that the countries’ demand could partly be met by using secondary Nd and Dy from the EoL-wind turbines. Although future scenarios were used, the results realistically illustrate the German and Danish anthropogenic stock until 2035 by relying on data of already installed turbines up to 2018, which makes an evaluation of capacities and EoL-turbines, which need to be decommissioned by 2035, achievable. The provided information is valuable for further investigations regarding recovery strategies, feasibility analysis, and future decision-making processes.

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