The recycling-oriented material characterization of hard disk drives with special emphasis on NdFeB magnets
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Division of Analytical Chemistry and Analytical Metallurgy, Faculty of Chemistry, Wrocław University of Science and Technology, Wrocław, Poland
Department of Materials Science, Strength and Welding Technology, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Wybrzeże Wyspiańskiego 27, 50-370 Wrocław, Poland
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Anna Danczak   

Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Department of Chemistry, Wybrzeze Wyspianskiego 27, 50-370 Wrocław, Poland
Physicochem. Probl. Miner. Process. 2018;54(2):363-376
Hard disk drives (HDDs) consist of many components made from various materials: e.g. aluminum, steel, copper and rare earth elements (REEs). Recycling and reuse of these materials is desirable for economic and environmental reasons. Developing of potential HDDs recycling methods requires knowledge about HDDs material characteristic. The study aims to explore knowledge about structure and chemical composition of HDDs main components with special emphasis on NdFeB magnets. HDDs collected for the experiments came from Desktop PCs and Notebooks. The dependence between the average mass of HDDs components and such parameters as producer, year and country of production and disk capacity was analyzed. Chemical composition of NdFeB magnets and the heaviest components (i.e. top cover, mounting chassis, platters and metallic plates from magnet assembly of actuator) was analyzed by various analytical methods. The heaviest HDDs main components: top cover and mounting chassis, with the highest recycling potential, are made of aluminum and steel respectively. The majority of HDDs components showed also the existence of different alloy additions: C, Mg, Si, P, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Sn and Pb. NdFeB magnets constitute 2.2 ± 1.1% of the average HDD from Desktop PC (517.3 ± 64.2 g) and 3.2 ± 1.2% from Notebook (108.2 ± 24.3 g). The chemical composition of NdFeB magnets from collected HDDs changes in the wide range: Fe (53–62%), Nd (25–29%), Pr (2–13%), Dy (0.1– 1.4%), Ni (2–6%), Co (0.5–3.6%), B (0.8–1.0%). Recycling of permanent magnets based on NdFeB alloys is potential remedy to fill the gap in the supply of rare earth elements on the global REEs market.
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