Sustainable Value Recovery of NdFeB Magnets: A Multi-Objective Network Design and Genetic Algorithm

Hongyue Jin, Byung Duk Song, Yuehwern Yih, John W. Sutherland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets are widely used in clean energy applications such as wind turbines and electric vehicles whose demand is escalating. However, rare earth elements (REEs) for manufacturing NdFeB magnets are subject to significant supply uncertainty due to Chinese near-monopolistic supply. To mitigate the risk, companies are actively pursuing value recovery from end-of-life magnets. However, the questions of how to collect used magnets and smoothly transfer them through the reverse supply chain require further investigation. To address this challenge, this paper designs an efficient NdFeB magnet recovery infrastructure by identifying the optimal processing facility locations and defining the capacities and transportation flows that maximize the economic and environmental benefits and social support for the new business. Mathematical model and a multi-objective network design genetic algorithm (MONDGA) were designed to calculate solutions. When compared with the exact solutions implemented by CPLEX (an optimization package), MONDGA provided (near) optimal solutions with significantly improved computation efficiencies. As the real world model application required a large-scale optimization, MONDGA was superior to CPLEX, which failed to provide any solution. The results confirmed that our proposed model and algorithm offer a promising strategy for the NdFeB magnet recycling industry to enhance the economic and environmental sustainability and maximize social support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4767-4775
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2 2018


  • Genetic algorithm
  • Rare earth elements
  • Rare earth magnets
  • Recycling
  • Supply chain optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


Dive into the research topics of 'Sustainable Value Recovery of NdFeB Magnets: A Multi-Objective Network Design and Genetic Algorithm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this