Rare Earths 101


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Rare Earth Elements: The Basics, Supply Chain, and Applications

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Rare Earths 101

  1. 1. RARE EARTHS 101 THE BASicS, EconomicS, Supply cHAin And ApplicATionS
  2. 2. The rare earth elements are the 15 lanthanides: lanthanum (La - #57) through to lutetium (Lu - #71), plus yttrium (Y - #39) REE are grouped as light rare earth elements (LREE) or heavy rare earth elements (HREE). While they are not particularly “rare” in the earth’s crust, they are generally not concentrated in commercially viable ore deposits. LREE (Light rare earth elements) *Those in bold have been identified as “critical” rare earth elements by the U.S. Department of Energy RARE EARTH BASicS 3 Li 4 Be 40 Zr 41 Nb 31 Ga 32 Ge 72 Hf 73 Ta 58 Ce 59 Pr 60 Nd 61 Pm 62 Sm 63 Eu 64 Gd 65 Tb 66 Dy 67 Ho 68 Er 69 Tm 70 Yb 71 Lu 49 In 50 Sn Other Rare Metals Light Rare Earths Heavy Rare Earths 57 La 37 Rb 55 Cs 39 Y Silver, silvery-white, or gray High luster, but tarnish in air High electrical conductivity Occur together in minerals Many fluoresce strongly under UV lighting High melting and boiling points Catalytic, chemical, electrical, metallurgical, nuclear, magnetic and optical properties Most REE compounds are strongly paramagnetic common pRopERTiES oF RARE EARTHS Lanthanum (La) Cerium (Ce) Praseodymium (Pr) Neodymium (Nd) Samarium (Sm) Europium (Eu) Gadolinium (Gd) Terbium (Tb) Dysprosium (Dy) Holmium (Ho) Erbium (Er) Thulium (Tm) Ytterbium (Yb) Lutetium (Lu) Yttrium (Y) HREE (Heavy rare earth elements)
  3. 3. RareMetalsMatter.com is a place to explore advances in rare metal material science and applications. From smart phones to hybrid cards, wind generators to medical technologies... rare metals certainly do matter! RARE EARTHS liFEcyclE www.raremetalsmatter.com
  4. 4. One of the most important applications of REE is high strength permanent neodymium magnets (NdFeB) or “neo-magnets”. They are essential to many consumer products such as microphones, loudspeakers, headphones and computer hard drives. Higher value products that use large amounts of neo-magnets include hybrid and electric vehicles, industrial motors, air conditioners, electronic bicycles and wind and tidal turbine generators. Demand for neo-magnets is estimated to grow by 6-8% per year to 2016. Another very important application of REE, particularly yttrium, terbium and erbium, are light emitting diodes, or better known as LED’s. The global LED market is estimated to be U$94 billion by 2020, representing approximately 60% of the total lighting market. The compound annual growth rate between 2010 and 2016 is estimated at 35%. (Source: LED Magazine) Color monitors for computers, consumer electronics and televisions are dependent on REE phosphors for the colours red (europium), blue (europium) and green (terbium). Glass monitors, and other glass applications such as cameras, also require cerium oxide as a polishing compound. The use of REE in medical applications is increasing due to new drug treatments, diagnostic techniques and medical equipment. Another main use of REE is catalysts, specifically fluid cracking catalysts used in the refining of crude oil. RARE EARTH ApplicATionS