Honda Develops Process to Extract Rare-earth Materials From Ni-MH Batteries

Apr 18, 2012
Motohiko Hamada, Nikkei Automotive Technology

Honda Motor Co Ltd developed a process that extracts rare-earth materials contained in used parts of its products in collaboration with Japan Metals & Chemicals (JMC) Co Ltd.

Honda will start to extract rare-earth materials contained in used nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH) batteries of hybrid vehicles collected at its dealers in and outside Japan at a mass production line of a recycling plant in late April 2012. This is the first time in the world that such a recycling process has been realized at a mass production line of a recycling plant, not at an experimental level.

Thus far, used Ni-HM batteries have been processed with heat to recycle scraps containing Ni as materials for stainless steel. This time, rare-earth materials were stably extracted at JMC's plant. As a result, it became possible to extract rare-earth materials (including Ni and cobalt (Co)) whose purities are equivalent to those of mined and refined rare-earth materials at a mass production line.

With the new process, rare-earth materials contained in used Ni-MH batteries can be extracted with a collection rate of 80% or higher. Honda aims to reuse extracted rare-earth materials for its Ni-HM batteries and other products. Also, this process can be used for extracting rare-earth materials from other used parts. So, Honda plans to expand the application of the new process.