Several rare earth elements (REEs) are fundamental constituents of a great variety of electrical and electronic equipment used by the overwhelming majority of our society, such as cell phones, monitors, computers, batteries, loudspeakers, lasers, among many others. Due to their strategic importance and because main deposits and world market of REEs is clearly dominated by China, they are considered critical materials, essential for the development of industry and countries. The recovery and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is a possible road to increase and diversify the sources to obtaining REEs. The extraction and separation of REEs from this urban waste will thus allow recovering valuable chemical elements. It is therefore imperative to develop and implement technologies able to recover REEs from this type of waste efficiently and at low cost. The RecValTR project aims to respond to this challenge, through the development of technology and engineering for this process, therefore contributing for the transition to a circular economy.


Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) is the largest and most reputed school of Engineering, Science and Technology in Portugal. Since its creation in 1911, IST’s mission is to contribute to the development of society by providing top quality higher education, at graduate and postgraduate levels, as well as developing Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) activities to allow it to provide teaching in line with the highest international standards.

IST is involved with some of the most prestigious RD&I and technology transfer institutions in Portugal, with remarkable impact internationally in many scientific and technological domains. Internationalization has been defined as a key strategic goal over the past few years with increasing number of international students and staff as well as an increasing participation in international academic networks and establishment of several double degree programs in both MSc and PhD levels. This way, IST contributes to the development of the students’ educational level, offering them several opportunities to participate in international research networks, approaching scientific cooperation and multicultural experience, and motivating innovation and entrepreneurship.

Interecycling, S.A. was founded in 2000, in the Zona Industrial do Lajedo, in the municipality of Tondela, district of Viseu. Interecycling is prepared to recycle 5 of the 6 categories of WEEE’s, in accordance with Decree-Law no. 152-D / 2017.

Interecycling operates with high standards of quality, service and innovation, contributing to a better environment and a sustainable development, through the correct recycling of WEEE’s and resulting fractions. We have only one commitment: to guarantee to the Environment and to consumers that the best is truly being done, by the best available practices with total protection of the environment and generating resources and national wealth.

Interecycling presents itself as an integrated solution of services (Intpolymers and Intglass), logistics (Intlogistic), products (Intproducts) and consulting (Intconsulting), to achieve its mission. It is a Reception Center, Dismantling Center and WEEE’s Recycling Center, in the various divisions of the company and with the recycling lines it has. Using the best technology and in line with the best world practices, it is prepared to treat this type of waste in strict respect for the Environment, neutralizing its hazardous components and returning the various materials that compose them to the environment.


The project aims to develop chemical processes able to recover rare earth elements from permanent magnets, CRT phosphors and NiMH batteries, more specifically, neodymium (Nd), europium (Eu), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy) and yttrium (Y). The generated knowledge will be integrated and used for the design and installation of a pilot unit for the extraction of REEs from WEEE.



José Sardinha (project coordinator at IST)


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