Honda will extract rare-earth metals from used car parts

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 18, 2012

Honda wants to begin the first mass-production process in the world to extract rare-earth metals from used car parts and recycle the expensive materials that are primarily controlled by China. Honda and Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. have teamed up to start extracting rare-earth metals this month from nickel-metal hydride batteries collected from used hybrid vehicles at dealerships throughout the world.

These rare-earth minerals are commonly seen in the motor magnets and batteries used in electric and hybrid vehicles. These are also vital for the defense, electronics and renewable-energy industries. China makes up around 97% of global output of the 17 rare-earth metals and has boosted export controls, leading to surging prices.

Honda said that with the use of this recently developed process, the extraction of over 80% of rare-earth metals in nickel-metal hydride batteries is possible. It also intends to make use of this process for other parts, giving the extracted metals back to its products. Government subsidies have helped Japanese automakers and other heavy users to find ways to reduce rare- earth usage or have the metals replaced.

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