A novel MagLev-based separation approach for heavy metal recycling

Chengqian ZHANG, Daofan TANG, Mingyi CAO, Fu GU, Xiangyu CAI, Xuetao LIU, Zhaoyu CHENG, Philip HALL, Jianzhong FU, Peng ZHAO

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Separation is crucial for recycling heavy metals, however, most of the reported processes focus on separating metals from non-metals. Here we propose a magnetic levitation (MagLev) configuration to separate heavy metals from metallic mixtures. The novel configuration is able to levitate substances with specific densities over 5.00 g/cm3, while the extant MagLev devices can only handle materials that have specific densities no more than 3.00 g/cm3. We mathematically model the proposed MagLev configuration and apply the approach to separate rare earth metals from fluorescent powders as well as indium contents from indium-tin oxide (ITO)/glass mixtures, mechanically processed liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and ITO powder. The results show that the recovery rates of ITO from ITO/glass mixtures are over 95%, the concentrations of indium in separated LCD shreds are doubled (from 912.0 ppm to 1873.1 ppm), and the purities of separated In2O3 from ITO powder are around 90%. The method is controllable and requires no energy or chemical inputs, and it thereby has tremendous prospects in heavy metal recycling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105769
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Density-based separation
  • Heavy metal recycling
  • Indium-tin oxide
  • Liquid crystal display
  • Magnetic levitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics


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