Polestar to recycle magnets together with Cyclic Materials
Polestar has entered into a cooperation with the North American start-up Cyclic Materials, which specialises in the recycling of magnets. The memorandum of understanding between the two companies provides for the development of recycled magnets for use in electric motors in Polestar vehicles.
The collaboration will also explore ways to efficiently recycle existing magnets, according to Polestar. Instead of sourcing raw materials from mines for new drive units, the Swedish Geely brand wants to recycle the rare earth metals from old motors.
As part of its own sustainability strategy, Polestar prepared a life cycle analysis for each model. In the case of the Polestar 2, which relies on permanent magnet synchronous machines (PSMs), they have found “that electric motors, containing valuable rare earth elements (REEs) like neodymium and dysprosium, had the second-highest raw material footprint, after the car batteries,” Polestar wrote. Since neodymium and dysprosium have a decisive influence on the properties of the permanent magnet built into the rotor, they are very important. But their mining and refining can often pose environmental risks, such as leaking toxic wastewater that can damage local ecosystems.
Now that Polestar is investing in recycling the magnets with the rare earth materials, it seems that the e-car maker will continue to rely on this electric motor design in the future. Other electric motors, such as asynchronous motors or current-excited synchronous machines, do not require permanent magnets (and thus neodymium and dysprosium). Parent company Volvo is moving away from a pure PSM powertrain in the XC40 and C40 in the future. As reported, an ASM will be fitted to the front axle of the all-wheel-drive models in future – but PSM will remain at the rear.
“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,” says Ahmad Ghahreman, CEO of Cyclic Materials.
“To become a circular company, we need to look at where we have the biggest impact – and magnets are among the least circular materials out there,” says Sander Jahilo, Circularity Lead at Polestar. “Cyclic Materials are unique in that they are tapping into materials which have previously been overlooked in the recycling industry due to technical limitations.”
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