Honda has announced a new joint project with Japan Metals and Chemicals (JMC) Co., Ltd. – a mass production line for a recycling plant. But it’s not just any mass production line; it’s the world’s first massive hybrid battery recycling project.
The availability of rare earth metals is a question of limited resources – there’s a finite amount of each element on Earth and it’s also not really that easy to dig out of the ground and refine. China has the monopoly on that market for the moment, prompting Siemens to start a research project last year to recycle old electric motors. Now, Honda wants in on the fun.
What Do You Mean, Unrecyclable Battery?
Most previous attempts at recycling the nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries used in most hybrid cars involved heat treatment and treating the nickel-containing results as stainless steel scrap metal. The technology used at the JMC plant has successfully managed to extract the rare earth metal from the batteries in question for reuse; the recovered metal is equivalent in purity to that mined and refined in China.
Not only is the metal recovered of a very usable level of purity, but Honda and JMC have been able to extract upwards of 80% of the rare earth metals put in the battery in the first place. Honda plans to use their fabulous new resource (gathered from both domestic and international dealers) to not only make new batteries but a wide range of other products as well. Check out the diagram for how it works:
The technology in question is apparently also useful not only for nickel-metal hydride compounds but other rare earth metals as well, giving Honda and its mass production line recycling process a significant advantage in maintaining its rare earth metal supply.
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Source: Kankyo Business | Images: Honda.