Honda to reuse rare earth metals contained in used parts
April 17: Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and the Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd have jointly announced the establishment of the world's first process to extract rare earth metals from various used parts in Honda products. This is an actual mass-production process at a recycling plant, not an experimental process. Honda will pursue the recycling of precious resources by utilising the newly established process for the recycling of rare earth metals. The diagram above depicts the flow of the reuse of rare earth materials that Honda aims to achieve.
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. The new operation will be the first in the world to extract rare earth metals as part of a mass-production process at a recycling plant.
Honda had been applying a heat treatment to used nickel-metal hydride batteries and recycling nickel-containing scrap as a raw material of stainless steel. However, the successful stabilisation of the extraction process at Japan Metals & Chemicals’ plant has 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 newly established process enables the extraction of as much as above 80 percent of rare earth metals contained in used nickel-metal hydride batteries. Honda aims to reuse extracted rare earth metals not only for nickel-metal hydride batteries, but also for a wide range of Honda products. Moreover, Honda says it will further 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.
Honda has for long been committed to the 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) approach and was the first Japanese automaker to begin sales of recycled parts and to collect/recycle oil filters and replaced bumpers.