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Carmaker speeds up rare earth recycling

Swedish carmaker Polestar has signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian start-up Cyclic Materials to improve the recycling of rare earth metals.

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The partners want to create ‘closed-loop recycling pathways’ for rare earths in magnets commonly used in the automotive industry. Their objective is to increase the efficiency of existing recycling practices while investing in further innovation to benefit the next generation of vehicles. 

‘We found that electric motors, containing valuable rare earth elements like neodymium and dysprosium had the second-highest raw material footprint, after the car batteries,’ Polestar points out. ‘These elements are crucial to motor function but their mining and refinement can often introduce environmental risks, such as leakage of toxic effluents that can harm local ecosystems.’

Sander Jahilo, circularity lead at Polestar, adds that magnets are among the least circular materials. ‘Cyclic Materials taps into materials which have previously been overlooked in the recycling industry due to technical limitations. By partnering with them, we will have a shot at closing the loop on magnets to take a big step towards lowering the raw material footprint of our cars.’

‘Polestar approached us with a vision of using 100% recycled materials in its electric traction motors and ensuring that all its cars are recycled at the end of their life,’ recalls Ahmad Ghahreman, ceo of Cyclic Materials. ‘They are a leader in circular lifecycle management of vehicles so we are proud to have them as partners in building a circular supply chain for rare earth elements.’

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