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Batteries Honda Recycling Rare Earth Materials from EV Batteries

Published on March 4th, 2013 | by Joshua S Hill

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Honda Recycling Rare Earth Materials From Used EV Batteries

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March 4th, 2013 by  

Electric vehicles are becoming more and more important to the future of a green planet Earth, with production and sales increasing worldwide. Vehicle manufacturers the world over are making electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles a priority, and adjunct companies focusing on recharging and distance calculations are popping up all over the place.

Arguably the key component for any electric vehicle is its battery, a nickel-metal hydride battery in many cases.

However, batteries have also proved to be a sticking point when it comes to the ‘actual’ greenness of an electric vehicle; battery creation is an intensive process, and then — at the end of a battery’s lifespan — there is the question of how to dispose of it.

One of these issues may be on the way out, however, according to Honda, which has announced on its website that it has established the world’s first process (according to Honda internal research) that reuses rare earth metals extracted from nickel-metal hydride batteries in the creation of new nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Honda Recycling Rare Earth Materials from EV Batteries

Honda’s process for recycling nickel-metal hydride batteries
Image Credit: Honda

One of the key elements of a nickel-metal hydride battery is the use of rare earth metals like Lanthanum. Honda has now managed to extract an oxide containing rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries at the Japan Metals & Chemicals company (JMC).

The process involves applying molten salt electrolysis to the oxide from the battery, allowing them to extract metallised rare earth that can be used directly as negative-electrode materials for nickel-metal hydride batteries.

The rare earth metals extracted have a purity of more than 99%, which is as high as that of ordinarily traded and newly mined rare earth metals. On top of that, the new process enables the extraction of as much as 80% of rare earth metals contained in a nickel-metal hydride battery.

Honda isn’t just leaving this in the laboratory, either. Honda plans to use the extracted rare earth metals from JMC in new batteries as early as this month, as negative-electrode materials.

The current batch of rare earth metals were harvested from 386 Honda hybrid vehicles, which were stored prior to being on sale, but which were subsequently damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Minus a handy supply of unused and damaged hybrids sitting in a warehouse somewhere, Honda plans to begin using the new process on batteries collected by Honda dealers through battery replacements. The company also hopes to extract rare earth materials from various used parts to further how much it is recycling.

Source: Honda

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



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  • Erma Butts

    This is very interesting! Great thing that Honda thought of this. -http://www.probatterytx.com/

  • Andrew Metals

    This is a good and new thing according to my point of view.i like your blog its quite informative.
    Industrial Recycling

  • Otis11

    That’s a great start, but if this is going to be the future of transportation, we’re going to need a lot better than 80% recover!

  • Angela

    I think its great that Honda has found a way to reuse this rare material, most car manufacturers probably haven’t even looked into this yet.

    • arne-nl

      Yes they have.

      Toyota has pays $ 200 for every returned Prius battery. Since the Prius is such a rock solid reliable vehicle, and none of the naysayer’s battery problems have arisen, no meaningful numbers of Prius batteries have been returned toToyota. Whatever they get, they are probably storing them or hand them over to independent recycling companies that already exist.

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