Nissan and Waseda University in Tokyo have announced the start of testing in Japan of a jointly developed recycling process that efficiently recovers high-purity rare-earth elements (REEs) from EV motor magnets. The testing is aimed at enabling practical application of the new process by the mid-2020s.

Most motors in EVs use neodymium magnets, which contain scarce rare-earth metals such as neodymium and dysprosium.

The new method of testing has shown that the new recycling process can recover 98% of the motors’ REEs.

The method also approximately twice as fast as current recovery processes because there is no need to demagnetise the magnets, or remove and disassemble them

In a press release, Nissan states, “Reducing the use of scarce rare earths is important not only because of the environmental impact of mining and refining, but also because the shifting balance of supply and demand leads to price fluctuations for both manufacturers and consumers.”

Nissan has been collaborating with Waseda University since 2017, which has a strong track record of researching non-ferrous metal recycling and smelting.