Rare earth recycling set up in Japan

April 19, 2012 at 7:02 PM
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TOKYO, April 19 (UPI) -- Honda and the Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. say they've established the world's first process to extract rare earth metals from used parts in Honda products.

Honda and Japan Metals & Chemicals will begin before the end of the month extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries collected from Honda hybrid vehicles at Honda dealers inside and outside of Japan, a Honda release said Tuesday.

The operation will be the first in the world to extract rare earth metals as part of a mass-production process at a recycling plant rather than as just an experimental process, the release said.

The process enables the extraction of as much as 80 percent of rare earth metals contained in the used batteries, Honda said.

The companies said they have perfected the extraction process to yield purity as high as that of newly mined and refined metals.

Rare earths are a family of 17 metals vital in technologies like electronics and computers.

China controls 95 percent of the global supply and has been setting restricted export quotas.

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