KITAKYUSHU – Kosei Co., a Tokyo-based manufacturer of nonferrous metals, has built a factory in Kitakyushu to extract rhenium, a very rare earth element, from the turbine blades of scrapped jet engines.
The factory, which company and city officials say is the first of its kind in Japan, was unveiled to reporters Wednesday. Kosei says it is aiming to get 2 tons of rhenium and 6 tons of tungsten from around 100 tons of scrapped components in the initial year of operation.
Heat-resistant, reinforced turbine blades are made of a superalloy that combines various rare metals. Tungsten usually accounts for around 6 percent and rhenium about 2 percent.
Kosei said rhenium sells for around ¥500,000 to ¥1 million per kilogram and up to around 60 tons of rhenium is used each year around the world.