Blockchain-based rare earth certification scheme being developed for EVs

A blockchain-based and EU-funded certification scheme is being developed for rare earths used in electric vehicles (EVs) as automakers demand proof that materials used to make magnets for EVs are not linked to toxic pollution. The system is expected to set global standards and give confidence to consumers demanding sustainable products, Reuters reported.

FILE PHOTO: An electric car is seen plugged in at a charging point for electric vehicles. (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: An electric car is seen plugged in at a charging point for electric vehicles.

The Circular System for Assessing Rare Earth Sustainability or CSyARES is expected to be ready in about three years from now, the Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA) and Dutch supply chain traceability firm Circularise said. The system will track rare earths using blockchain tokens or digital passports, throughout the supply chain, from mining to end-of-life.

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The project is being funded by the European Union (EU) through EIT Raw Materials, an organisation implementing an EU action plan drawn up in 2020 to secure critical minerals for the bloc. The funding amount has not been disclosed. The funding scheme is a part of Europe's quest to jump start domestic output of super-strong rare earth magnets used in EVs.

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Circularise and REIA are two of five partners involved in the CSyARES system. Other three firms are Germany's BEC, Denmark's Grundfos and London-based Minviro. Auditing firms already issue certificates for sustainability of mining products including some rare earths. "It is a very manual process. Some of those certificates can even be found on Ebay, it's not really trustworthy," said Teresa Oberhauser of Circularise.

She added that once a token is created for a certain amount of sustainably produced mineral, it cannot be changed on blockchain, which is a digital ledger. Processing of rare earths is a complex operation which involves solvents and toxic waste that needs to be disposed of carefully.

The EU targets rare earths as a top priority because 98% of the bloc's permanent magnets are imported from China.

(with inputs from Reuters)

First Published Date: 08 Feb 2022, 13:29 PM IST
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