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Rare earth element recovery potentials from end-of-life hybrid electric vehicle components in 2010–2030


Increasing attention is currently given to the management of end-of-life (EoL) hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), because approximately two decades have passed since they were first introduced to the market. A HEV would be one of the largest consumers of rare earth elements (REEs), and hence represents the greatest potential for REE recovery in the future. The purpose of this study is to clarify the present and future recovery potential of REEs that are disposed of as EoL HEVs. This study first estimated the numbers of EoL HEVs during fiscal years (FYs) 2010–2030, and then clarified the potential for recovery of REEs from two HEV-specific components—the hybrid transmission and NiMH battery unit. The results suggest that 0.51–0.65 million HEVs will reach the EoL stage in FY2030, compared with only 11,000 HEVs in FY2010. As of FY2030, REE recovery potentials will increase to 220 tons and 2900 tons for EoL hybrid transmission and NiMH battery units, respectively. A total of 49,000 tons of REEs will be contained within HEV-specific components of HEVs still in use. Moreover, the potential for recovery of REEs from EoL hybrid transmissions and NiMH battery units is estimated to equal 35.4 and 92.1 % of respective demand.

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This research was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund, Grant Number K123001, from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

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Correspondence to Junya Yano.

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Yano, J., Muroi, T. & Sakai, Si. Rare earth element recovery potentials from end-of-life hybrid electric vehicle components in 2010–2030. J Mater Cycles Waste Manag 18, 655–664 (2016).

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