(Bloomberg) -- As governments look to secure supplies of crucial rare earth materials, the U.K.’s Pensana Plc signed an agreement with energy company Equinor ASA to look at developing a low-energy method for recycling magnets.

The accord is for magnets from wind turbine nacelles -- the central hub that allows it to generate electricity -- to be recycled using hydrogen at Pensana’s hub at the Saltend Chemicals Park. The rare earth company is targeting recycling an annual market of 4,000 tons of end-of-life magnets.

Rare earths are crucial to high-tech products from computer hard drives to missile-guidance systems and are an essential part of green-related products that are key to tackling climate change. While they are fairly common, China has dominated processing of the materials for more than a decade, and prices have surged lately as demand outpaced production. That’s prompting a search to secure more supply.

Using hydrogen at the Saltend facility will help offer a production alternative that uses 88% less energy than virgin magnet manufacturing, the company said in a statement.

 

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