Honda Unveils Process to Recycle Rare-Earth Metals Extracted from Used Parts

'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 said.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and the Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. Ltd. earlier this week said they've established the world's first process to extract rare-earth metals from various used parts in Honda products.

Before the end of April, the companies 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 (IW 1000: 23) said in a news release.

"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 said.

Honda noted that 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.

"However, the successful stabilization of the extraction process at the plant of Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. Ltd. 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," Honda said.

The newly established process enables the extraction of as much as above 80% of rare-earth metals contained in used nickel-metal hydride batteries, according to the automaker.

Honda said it "will strive to reuse extracted rare-earth metals not only for nickel-metal hydride batteries, but also to a wide range of Honda products."

Moreover, Honda 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," the automaker noted.

Honda added that it has a longstanding commitment to the "3R approach" -- reduce, reuse, recycle.

"For instance, Honda was the first Japanese automaker to begin sales of recycled parts and to collect/recycle oil filters and replaced bumpers," the automaker asserted.

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