Room air conditioners have great potential as an untapped deposit of rare earth elements, but the difficulty of removing the rare earth elements from these units for recycling has stood as a major barrier. This is because rare earth magnets used in air conditioners are found inside components used in compressor rotors attached to the surrounding component with a rather powerful magnetic force. On top of this, rotors are made in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it near impossible to establish a standard method for disassembling the rotor to remove the rare earth magnets inside.
Mitsubishi Electric has resolved this issue with proprietary technologies that have enabled the development of automatic dismantling equipment that uses a resonance damping demagnetization method. This equipment can automatically dismantle, sort and remove the rare earth magnets used in compressors at a pace of one air conditioning unit every 30 seconds. We have also created a database on the shapes and sizes of rotors to establish settings for this equipment to easily modify its operations for each rotor type. This has enabled us to recover rare earth magnets where it was once not possible.