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Honda Starts Hybrid Battery Pack Rare Earth Metal Recycling

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2011 Honda Insight

2011 Honda Insight

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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 Insight

2000 Honda Insight

Enlarge 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

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Comments (6)
  1. The original Honda press release is here.

    http://world.honda.com/news/2012/c120417Reuse-Rare-Earth-Metals/index.html

    Seems like they are after the Nickel and Cobalt in the batteries. They also hint that these components may be used to make things other than batteries. Also they hint that they are looking at recycling other components from their vehicles.

    If the world moves on from NiMH to Li-Ion batteries, it is nice to know that the recycled materials from the NiMH batteries will still have other uses.
     
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  2. Thanks Honda. We are also aware that Japan has an electric motor that does not use rare earth metals...thanks Japan. Again, why can't America do that? Well, we all know the answer: it's because Obama said, "Why can't America do that?", and we don't want to do anything that Obama wants to do, do we?
     
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  3. Well, GM does use non-permanent magnet AC motors in their e-assist system.

    Also, the use of permanent magnet motors is common on both sides of the Pacific including in the Toyota Prius, Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt etc.
     
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  4. You are right, John, but America thinks that we are addicted to rare earth and can't live without them. I think China could be using one of Germany's brain washing techniques on us from WWII. Japan hasn't had the non-rare earth electric motor too long and I think that BMW is even coming out with a non-rare earth electric motor...I think it is BMW. Either way, thanks Honda for building a recycling plant for these batteries and reusing the rare earth metals. ...bad for China, but good for the rest of us.
     
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  5. James, induction motors (meaning motors without rare earth in this specific case) have been around for over 100 years. This is NOT new technology. The new technology was the rare earth, not the other way around. Some companies, not all, saw technical advantages from going away from AC induction to DC motors w/rare earth. The cost now makes that tough, but please stop claiming that Japan has a technology that everybody has had for a long time.
     
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  6. Tesla Motors has always used an AC induction motor that does not require/rely on rare-earth elements.

    The cobalt from the old batteries is a pricey commodity used in a number of applications. Also, the Li-ion cell chemistry that Tesla uses from Panasonic has cobalt as one of the electrode materials. Others use similar chemistries.
     
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