Swedish electric vehicle manufacturer Polestar and Kingston, Ontario-based Cyclic Materials are working together to create a closed loop on rare earth magnets.
As part of Polestar’s circularity strategy, they mapped their Polestar 2 vehicle for circularity hotspots to identify areas for improvement. They 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.
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.
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.
The MoU will see the development of recycled magnets for use in Polestar cars, as well as explore ways to efficiently recycle existing magnets. 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.
Polestar reduce their own demand for mining, but also help prevent the loss of biodiversity that can result from the extraction of these elements.
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.
“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,” said Ahmad Ghahreman, CEO of Cyclic Materials.
“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.”
“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. 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”.