2011 Honda InsightEnlarge Photo
Over the past few decades, demand for rare earth metals, has dramatically increased.
So called because they are difficult to find in large deposits and often difficult to mine, rare earth metals are used in everything from electronics devices to hybrid and electric car battery packs.
Now increased demand and ever-increasing export charges from China, where 95 percent of all rare earth metals are being mined, has prompted Japanese automaker Honda to announce a plan to recycle rare earth metals from dead hybrid car battery packs.
Reported by Automotive News (subscription required), Honda has partnered with Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. to extract up to 80 percent of the rare earth metals found in nickel-metal hydride battery packs.
2000 Honda InsightEnlarge Photo
Once collected, Honda then plans to use the salvaged metals to build new components and battery packs for its cars, reducing reliance on the volatile rare earth metal market.
Interestingly, unlike other hybrid and electric car battery recycling schemes, Honda plans to have dealers send battery packs to one central recycling depot, rather than having recycling partners dotted around the world.
What will the effect of Honda’s new battery recycling scheme be?
Other than reducing the cost of hybrid and electric car battery packs, it will also ensure that landfill and environmental pollution is kept at a minimum, keeping car batteries the world’s most recycled product.