Australia-based rare earth exploration and development company, Pensana, has signed an agreement with Norwegian state-owned energy company, Equinor, to develop a low-energy method to recycle end-of-life magnets from wind turbine nacelles at the Saltend Chemical Park – a rare earths hub in the United Kingdom (UK).

Pensana Chairperson, Paul Atherley, stated that this decarbonized power initiative will contribute to the production of a sustainable supply chain for critical materials and minerals, which are primarily imported from Pensana’s Longonjo rare earths project in Angola. A long-term supply of hydrogen for the chemical park will be sourced from Equinor’s flagship 600 MW Hydrogen to Humber (H2H) Saltend low-carbon hydrogen production facility.

“We very much look forward to working with Equinor using hydrogen from the H2H Saltend project in establishing this innovative process route as a key component in the circular economy for rare earth magnets in the UK,” stated Atherley.

The group will collaborate on technical and commercial information, using properties found in hydrogen to develop low hydrogen methods to process end-of-life magnets. Recycling permanent magnets will offer a clean alternative to virgin magnet manufacturing, using approximately 88% less energy.

The partnership between Equinor and Pensana is indicative of the companies’ commitments to decarbonizing the production of hydrogen and driving their ambition for an annual market share of 4,000 tons of end-of-life permanent magnets.

Equinor’s Project Director for H2H Saltend, Tanguy Cosmao added, “We are delighted to be working with Pensana and other companies in the local area on the potential use of Equinor’s low carbon hydrogen to reduce the emission from their industrial processes.”

The agreement comes days after Equinor’s submission to bring its H2H Saltend facility, with the potential to produce 600 MW of low carbon hydrogen, into Phase 2 of the UK Government’s latest competitive cluster sequencing process. The submission has been backed by six potential users of the facility, including Pensana, Centrica, Ineos, Triton Power, Vivergo, and Vital Energi.