Rare Earth elementsHonda to reuse rare Earth metals from used parts

Published 20 April 2012

Rare Earth elements are essential to advanced technological application and to green technology products; China controls 97 percent of the world’s production of these elements, and has been using its near-monopoly to hobble non-Chinese companies and for political blackmail; in response, two Japanese companies announce a new process allowing them to extract as much as 80 percent or more of rare Earth metals contained in used nickel-metal hydride batteries

Honda is establishing an ambitious rare earth recycling program // Source: autowat.com

Honda Motor Co. and the Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. jointly announced the establishment of the world’s first process to extract rare Earth metals from various used parts in Honda products. The companies note that the extraction will be conducted in an actual mass-production process at a recycling plant, not in an experimental process. Honda will pursue the recycling of precious resources by using the newly established process for the recycling of rare Earth metals.

As part of this effort, before the end of this month, Honda and Japan Metals & Chemicals will begin extracting rare Earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries collected from Honda hybrid vehicles at Honda dealers inside and outside of Japan.

Honda says it had been applying a heat treatment to used nickel-metal hydride batteries and recycling nickel-containing scrap as a raw material of stainless steel. The successful stabilization of the extraction process at the plant of Japan Metals & Chemicals, however, made possible the extraction of rare Earth metals in a mass-production process with purity as high as that of newly mined and refined metals.

The new process enables the extraction of as much as above 80 percent of rare Earth metals contained in used nickel-metal hydride batteries. Honda says it will try to reuse extracted rare Earth metals not only for nickel-metal hydride batteries, but also in a wide range of Honda products.

Moreover, Honda says it will expand the recycling of rare Earth metals in the future as the newly established process enables the extraction of rare earth metals from a variety of used parts in addition to nickel-metal hydride batteries.