Honda to recycle rare earths to be green

Jun 20, 2012 by YURI KAGEYAMA

(AP) — Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it will start recycling rare earths and other key materials in hybrid auto batteries this year — a key innovation in the Japanese automaker's effort to be green.

Japan is dependent on imports, mostly from China, for rare earth elements, which are essential for making high-tech products, but a steady supply has been periodically threatened over political disputes with China.

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.

officials said the company was targeting September or October to begin recycling of . They said it would be a first for the auto industry.

Honda President Takanobu Ito acknowledged uncertainty about the future of Japan's energy policy, which has been thrown into doubt by the nuclear crisis set off by the earthquake and tsunami last year.

"In the long term, we hope to move to renewable energy sources that won't harm the environment," he said at headquarters in Tokyo.

Last year's disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant led to a nationwide shutdown of Japan's 50 working reactors. Public worries are growing about the safety of nuclear technology as well as contamination from radiation from Fukushima.

Ito outlined Honda's efforts to reduce pollution and global warming, including experimental projects to combine solar with its fuel-cell cars — what he called the Honda "dream" to derive energy solely from nature and emit just water.

Fuel cells are powered by the energy created when hydrogen combines with oxygen to produce water. They are still too expensive for commercial use and remain experimental.

Ito said Honda's roots lie in its determination to develop a fuel-efficient gasoline engine to clear U.S. pollution-control regulations of the 1970s. Honda's CVCC engine was the first in the world to clear the standard. Japan later adopted similar pollution regulations.

Ito stressed the environment was a pet theme for founder Soichiro Honda, who repeatedly reminded workers the auto sector must share the responsibility for reducing emissions.

The maker of the Odyssey minivan, Asimo humanoid robot and Super Cub motorcycle is undergoing a strong recovery from a disaster-battered 2011, a rebound playing out at other Japanese automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co.

Honda's January-March profit rose 61 percent from the previous year, and it's projecting record global sales of 4.3 million vehicles for this fiscal year.

The earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in March 2011 disrupted the supply of auto parts and sent sales plunging and battered profitability at all the Japanese automakers. Last year's flooding in Thailand especially hurt Honda, whose assembly lines were directly hit.

Explore further: Ambitious EU targets for renewable energies make economic sense

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Honda will recycle rare-earth metals from batteries

Apr 19, 2012

( -- Honda Motor Co. this week made news with its announcement of a recycling breakthrough. The car maker, which manufactures hybrid vehicles, will start recycling rare-earth metals from the nickel-metal ...

Honda says to open bio-ethanol research centre

Feb 26, 2009

Japan's Honda Motor Co., seeking a boost in the race to build greener automobiles, said Thursday it would open a research centre to develop and produce bio-ethanol fuel from non-edible plant matter.

Nissan eyes 1.5 million electric cars by 2016

Oct 24, 2011

Japanese auto giant Nissan is aiming to sell 1.5 million electric vehicles around the world by 2016, the company said Monday, as it looks to capitalise on growing demand for green products.

Honda to Mass Produce Next-Generation Thin Film Solar Cell

Dec 19, 2005

Honda announced its plan to begin mass production in 2007, of an independently developed thin film solar cell composed of non-silicon compound materials, which requires 50% less energy, and thus generate 50% less CO2, during ...

Recommended for you

Should the Japanese give nuclear power another chance?

Oct 24, 2014

On September 9, 2014, the Japan Times reported an increasing number of suicides coming from the survivors of the March 2011 disaster. In Minami Soma Hospital, which is located 23 km away from the power plant, ...

UK wind power share shows record rise

Oct 24, 2014

The United Kingdom wind power production has been enjoying an upward trajectory, and on Tuesday wind power achieved a significant energy production milestone, reported Brooks Hays for UPI. High winds from Hurricane Gonzalo were the force behind wind turbines outproducing nuclear power ...

Global boom in hydropower expected this decade

Oct 24, 2014

An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, it could reduce ...

User comments : 0