The hydrogen absorption and desorption characteristics of the hydrogenation disproportionation desorption and recombination (HDDR) process on scrap sintered neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) type magnets have been investigated. At each stage of the process, the microstructural changes have been studied using high resolution scanning electron microscopy. It was found that the disproportionation reaction initiates at grain boundaries and triple points and then propagates towards the centre of the matrix grains. This process was accelerated at particle surfaces and at free surfaces produced by any cracks in the powder particles. However, the recombination reaction appeared to initiate randomly throughout the particles with no apparent preference for particle surfaces or internal cracks. During the hydrogenation of the grain boundaries and triple junctions, the disproportionation reaction was, however, affected by the much higher oxygen content of the sintered NdFeB compared with that of the as-cast NdFeB alloys. Throughout the entire HDDR reaction the oxidised triple junctions (from the sintered structure) remained unreacted and hence, remained in their original form in the fine recombined microstructure. This resulted in a very significant reduction in the proportion of cavitation in the final microstructure and this could lend to improved consolidation in the recycled magnets.
- Hydrogenation disproportionation desorption recombination