Honda Motor Co. (7267) which has been extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries at the plant of Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd. from April said Wednesday it will start recycling the metals before the end of 2012.
This is a key innovation in the Japanese automaker’s effort to be green.
Honda is also considering efforts to recover any residual voltage from the used nickel-metal hydride batteries and use it as regenerative voltage for the disassembly process.
Honda’s president, commented that the future of Japan’s energy policy has become uncertain in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and there is no better time than now to make a push towards the use of renewable energy sources.
Beijing, meanwhile, has defended its export curbs on rare earths as an environmental measure and rejected a World Trade Organization challenge by the United States, Europe and Japan.
China has about 30 percent of rare earths deposits but accounts for more than 90 percent of production.
Rare earths, a group of 17 metals, are vital for the manufacture of high-tech products ranging from smart phones and wind turbines to electric car batteries. The process of extracting the metals from the earth is extremely harmful to the environment.