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Honda to extract rare earth metals from used car batteries


April 17, 2012

Honda will begin extracting rare earth metals from used batteries from hybrid vehicles such as the Insight hybrid

Honda will begin extracting rare earth metals from used batteries from hybrid vehicles such as the Insight hybrid

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In response to the skyrocketing prices of rare earth metals, Honda, in partnership with the Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd., has established a world first mass-production process at a recycling plant to recycle this precious resource from Honda vehicles.

From this month, the companies will begin extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries collected at Honda dealers in Japan and other countries from Honda hybrid vehicles, such as the CR-Z hybrid and Insight hybrid.

The newly established process, which Honda points out is not experimental but an actual mass-production process, can extract as much as 80% of rare earth metals contained in used nickel-metal hydride batteries with purity levels as high as newly mined and refined metals.

Honda says it plans to reuse the extracted rare earth metals in a wide range of Honda products and not just in new nickel-metal hydride batteries.

The new process can also be used to extract rare earth metals from a variety of used parts, and Honda has plans to expand the extraction process of this increasingly precious resource to include parts other than nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Source: Honda

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

This sounds to me like an excellent idea, not least given the huge environmental destruction caused by mining for these so-called «rare-earth» elements. Hope that other manufacturers follow Honda's lead here !...



Only "as much as 80%".....

I don't know the current prices per ton of the refined specific metals.... but if I had the refined and used "more or less" pure metals in alloys and compounds, and I was able to extract 80% of them and then what happens to the other 20%? Further refining and extraction techniques.

I hope so.

I don't know the exact figures so I will make it up - this is like getting 1 ton of metal alloy concentrate, from 50,000 tons of dirt, minus the 50,000 tons of dirt.

That is what the 20% is.

Mr Stiffy

stiffy, unfortunately we do mine a bazillion tons of dirt to find pounds of the good stuff, strip-mining is a horribly inefficient way to exctract metals. I think that 20% would probably be lost in the batteries life through the chemical reactions going on to power that crummy thing down the road. well, the civic hybrid was alright. The prius is an absurd, lying, awful thing to drive. This should shed some light on why burning a little gas (and researching to make that cleaner/more efficient) is the better option. It took us FOREVER to think we're coming close to running out of oil. a decade of hybrid cars and we're already freaking about battery supply. And those batteries travel all over the world in diesel trucks and ships before ever sitting inside a prius, which someone drives to your dealership in a big diesel truck. sorry, i can't stand hybrids, so rant over. Go honda, you're awesome as usual can't wait for your answer to the BRZ/FR-S/GT86.

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