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

April 20, 2012
'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.

About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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