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4 ways Brazil can lead on climate

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-10-01 04:26
Improve fuel economy and invest in shifting to low-carbon modes of transport. Transport is Brazil's largest contributor to energy-related GHG emissions ...

WPI team develops process to recover rare earth elements from discarded motors of electric and hybrid vehicles

Pipe: Advanced tech - Thu, 2015-10-01 04:05

In an effort to help develop a sustainable domestic supply of rare earth elements and lessen US dependence on China for materials that are vital to the production of electronics, wind turbines, and many other technologies, two researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have developed a method of extracting rare earths from the drive units and motors of discarded electric and hybrid cars.

The process offers a recovery rate of more than 80%. While heat treatment is required for processing, all other steps can be performed at room temperature, thus resulting in a process designed for energy efficiency. Overall, the established process applies green chemistry principles for designing a hydrometallurgical process.

Selective dissolution enables efficient separation of steel and copper by taking advantage of the different reduction potentials of the materials in the mixture, while selective precipitation of RE salts is the key for obtaining pure RE products. —Bandara et al.

With support from WPI’s Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling (CR3), Marion Emmert, assistant professor of chemistry, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering at WPI, and postdoctoral fellow H.M. Dhammika Bandara created the novel method for processing drive units and electric motors to separate chemically rare earth elements—specifically neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium—from other materials used to make the devices. The goal is to recycle in a sustainable and efficient manner rare earths that would otherwise be lost.

To test the process, the WPI researchers sliced the drive unit (which contains the electric motor and other components of the drive train) of an all-electric Chevrolet Spark (earlier post) into several pieces and then shredded the pieces.

Using a two-step chemical extraction process, they were able to separate the rare earth elements and also recover other recyclable materials, including steel chips and other useful materials from the drive units.

The research dates back to the spring of 2014, when WPI was named the lead institution on a $7.4-million, multi-university award from the UUS Army that supported the development of new metallurgical methods and new lightweight alloys to help the military build more effective and durable vehicles and systems. Part of that research explored methods for extracting rare earth elements from ores found outside of China and for recovering those elements from recycled materials.

The researchers say the technology has the potential to be an alternative source of rare earths, which could lessen the need to import these vital elements from China, which currently supplies about 97% of the rare earths used in manufacturing. Furthermore, since magnets containing rare earths are used in a wide range of technologies, including electric motors, wind turbines, and medical imaging devices, manufacturers would be able to improve the sustainability of their products by recycling these materials.

The fact that China has the majority of operable separation facilities in the world is a huge problem for the United States. Large car manufacturers are dependent on the magnets composed of these elements for car production, so it’s really critical for rare earth recovery and separation technologies to take hold here.—Marion Emmert

WPI’s Intellectual Property and Innovation department has filed a provisional patent on the recovery technology, and is beginning to market the technology in hopes of finding a licensee.


  • H. M. Dhammika Bandara, Kathleen D. Field and Marion H. Emmert (2015) “Rare earth recovery from end-of-life motors employing green chemistry design principles” Green Chem. doi: 10.1039/C5GC01255D

Vulnerable road users key to reaching safety targets

Pipe: Europe - Thu, 2015-10-01 03:31

SPECIAL REPORT / Road safety is one of the areas in which the EU can claim progress. Since the first targets were agreed on in 2000, the number of road deaths in the bloc has been cut by 53%.


Krise bei VW-Händlern: "Das Modell hätte ich gern, aber 5000 Euro günstiger"

Pipe: Europe - Thu, 2015-10-01 03:11
Der Abgasskandal bei VW trifft auch die Autohäuser. Aus Verkäufern werden Krisenmanager - ein Besuch bei zwei VW-Händlern.

France prepares to unleash a barrage of waste regulation

Pipe: Europe - Thu, 2015-10-01 02:21

Thanks to the French Energy Transition Law, the big news at this year's waste conference, was raft of new environmental regulations that will come into force in the coming months. Representatives from France's Ministry of Ecology promised to start enacting the legislation as soon as possible.


One of the World’s Most Powerful Central Bankers Is Worried About Climate Change

Pipe: Climate and Health - Thu, 2015-10-01 00:00
The governor of the Bank of England warns about risks to global financial stability.

Trabant als Youngtimer: Das Auto

Pipe: Europe - Wed, 2015-09-30 23:14
Vor 25 Jahren wollte keiner mehr Trabi fahren. Heute ist der DDR-Wagen ein Sammlerstück. In Ostbrandenburg ist ein Trabant im Neuwagen-Zustand aufgetaucht. Für 13.999 Euro ist er zu haben.

2016 Honda Pilot offers room and <b>fuel-economy</b>

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Wed, 2015-09-30 22:55
The 2016 Honda Pilot SUV is the first of a new generation of family-carrying crossovers that will hit the market over the next several years.

vision -- Availability of ARB Mobile Source Strategy Discussion Draft Document, and Notice of Public Workshop on October 16, 2015

Pipe: Advanced tech - Wed, 2015-09-30 21:01
The Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) staff is putting forward a proposed mobile source strategy for discussion.

India to submit ‘climate action plan’ to UN today

Pipe: India - Wed, 2015-09-30 20:45
India will on Thursday submit its post-2020 'climate action plan' to a UN body in Bonn, specifying what the country will do to fight the threat of climate change.

sip -- Availability of ARB Mobile Source Strategy Discussion Draft Document, and Notice of Public Workshop on October 16, 2015

Pipe: Advanced tech - Wed, 2015-09-30 20:42
The Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) staff is putting forward a proposed mobile source strategy for discussion.

5 reasons your check engine light might be on

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Wed, 2015-09-30 19:37
If you are like many vehicle owners, when the “Check Engine” light comes on your heart skips a beat. It could be something as simple as a loose gas ...

District may look at switching to propane to run school buses

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Wed, 2015-09-30 18:52
"Contrary to conventional belief, buses fueled by propane autogas even experienced similar fuel economy to diesel after adjusting for the energy ...

vapor -- Amendment to Executive Order NVR-1-B to Add the Husky EagleFlex and VST V34EC Low Permeation Conventional Hose

Pipe: Advanced tech - Wed, 2015-09-30 18:23
Executive Order NVR-1 relating to the certification of low permeation conventional hoses for use at gasoline dispensing facilities without Phase II vapor recovery systems has been amended to include the Husky EagleFlex and Vapor Systems Technologies V34EC fuel hoses.

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for September 30, 2015.

Pipe: Advanced tech - Wed, 2015-09-30 17:42
ARB Newsclips for September 30, 2015.

Volkswagen Owners Wonder Where A Fix Will Leave Them

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Wed, 2015-09-30 17:22
"I'd be willing to consider, I think, a minimal impact on performance and fuel economy — you know, less than 10 percent — but if it's a significant ...

This Superyacht Project Takes "Hybrid" Tech To An Extremely Luxurious Level

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Wed, 2015-09-30 16:37
But the latest concept from this Dutch shipyard is a striking example of modern yacht design that takes innovation, fuel economy, and maybe the most ...

5 Reasons Why the 4-Cylinder Toyota Camry is America's Bestselling Car

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Wed, 2015-09-30 16:17
Predictably Efficient – While the incredible fuel economy levels of hybrid sedans have raised the bar for MPGs very high, the 2.5L 4-cylinder “base” ...

Call to halt government BMW purchase

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Wed, 2015-09-30 16:15
While it is well known that carmakers manipulate fuel economy tests to give over-optimistic results, a T&E spokesman has suggested that the huge gap ...

arbcombo -- Funding Available - Proposition 1B Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program (Program)

Pipe: Advanced tech - Wed, 2015-09-30 15:36
Five local agencies are offering financial incentives to owners of trucks and transport refrigeration equipment used in freight movement to upgrade to cleaner technologies through replacement or repower projects.