Polestar, a Swedish electric vehicle manufacturer, has plans to improve its circularity strategy through a partnership with Cyclic Materials, whose rare earth element recycling facilities are located here in Kingston.
The Swedish manufacturer mapped their Polestar 2 vehicle to identify areas for improvement, according to a media release, and found that electric motors have the second-highest raw material footprint, second only to car batteries.
Electric motors contain valuable rare earth elements (REEs) like neodymium and dysprosium, which are crucial to motor function, but the mining and refinement of these elements can often introduce environmental risks, such as leakages of toxic effluents that can harm local ecosystems, the partners explained.
In order to combat this problem, Polestar has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Cyclic Materials to create closed-loop recycling pathways for REEs. According to the release, the MoU will see the development of recycled magnets for use in Polestar cars and explore ways to recycle existing magnets efficiently. This means that, rather than mining for new raw materials, the company would be able to recycle the REEs from old motors and use them again in new vehicles.
By doing so, not only will Polestar reduce its own demand for mining, but also help prevent the loss of biodiversity that can result from the extraction of these elements, the company said: they want to “break new ground without literally breaking ground.”
According to the release, the partnership came to fruition when Polestar’s Circularity Lead, Sander Jahilo, sparked a dialogue with Patrick Nee, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Cyclic Materials.
“The first time I met Sander, he immediately grasped our vision and was eager to move forward with the partnership. The enthusiasm of Polestar has been a major factor in making this happen,” Nee stated.
Ahmad Ghahreman, CEO of Cyclic Materials, said, “Polestar approached us with a vision of using 100 per cent recycled materials in its electric traction motors and ensuring that all its cars are recycled at the end of their life. Polestar is a leader in circular lifecycle management of their vehicles, and Cyclic Materials is proud to have them as partners in building a circular supply chain for rare earth elements.”
Cyclic Materials has a pilot plant on Progress Avenue, where they reclaim REE from end-of-life equipment. According to the company, by 2026, they expect to produce 600 tonnes of rare earth oxide per year.
“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,” said 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. 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.”
For more information on Cyclic Materials, visit their website: https://www.cyclicmaterials.earth/