Saito Engine to Develop New Rare Earth Recovery Technology

Saito Engine, Japanese major scrap dealer, developed new technology to separate rare earth magnet effectively from hybrid car motors. The firm started the technology development two years ago. Magnet accounts for about 7.8% in one motor’s total weight. The firm has dismantled automotive motors at total 15 tonnes and recovered rare earth magnet at total 1-2 tonnes so far.

Rare earth magnet mainly contains iron, neodymium and boron as well as dysprosium as an additive to improve burning resistance. It is hard to separate magnet from motor since magnet power is very strong and then magnet is strongly bonded with motor for safety.

More than 95% of world rare earth production relies on China. Especially, dysprosium supply is wholly from a narrow area of South China. Chinese government has strengthened export control of rare earth year by year. In 2010, the government implemented temporal rare earth embargo against Japan. The market price has surged internationally.

Meanwhile, rare earth consumption is increasing along hybrid car and electric vehicle market growth. Thus stable supply system is required.

Mr. Akira Saito, president of Saito Engine, said the firm plans to increase rare earth recovery volume step by step when the supply is tightening. Mr. Saito explained retired hybrid car has increased for recent 2-3 years.