Honda Motor and the Japan Metals & Chemicals Company last spring began extracting an oxide containing rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries from Honda hybrid vehicles. The operation, the first in the world, is now recovering rare earth metals with a mass-production process at a JMC recycling plant.
By applying molten salt electrolysis to the oxide, Honda has succeeded in recovering metalized rare earth metals that can be used directly as negative-electrode materials for nickel-metal hydride batteries. The rare earth metals extracted in this recycling process have a purity of more than 99%, which is as high as newly-mined rare earth metals. The new procedure allows the extraction of more than 80% of rare earth metals contained in a nickel-metal hydride battery.
The rare earth metals came from nickel-metal hydride batteries from 386 Honda hybrid vehicles became unusable by damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake. As soon as a more batteries are gathered, Honda will begin applying the same recycling process and recover almost all of the rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries collected by Honda dealers through battery replacement. (Read AutoInformed on Honda to Recycle Rare Earth Metals from Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries in World’s First Mass Production Process )