Rare earth metal is one of hot topics nowadays.Rare earth elements ( REE’s) consist of a group of 15 metals. The names of the elements are Cerium, Dysprosium, Erbium,Europium, Gadolinium, Holmium, Lanthanum, Lutetium, Neodymium, Praseodymium, Samarium, Terbium, Thulium, Ytterbium, and Yttrium. Chemically, REE’s are strong reducing agents, their compounds are generally ionic, and they display high melting and boiling points. REE’s are relatively soft in their metallic state metals, the hardness of which increases with higher atomic numbers.REE’s are metals, with high lustre and electrical conductivity.
Applications and Benefits of the Rare Earth Elements:
Many applications of REE are characterized by high specificity and high unit value.
- Fiber-optic telecommunication cables provide much greater bandwidth than the copper wires and cables they have largely replaced. Er is used in these laser repeaters, despite its high cost (~$700/kg), because it alone possesses the required optical properties.
- Permanent magnet technology has been revolutionized by alloys containing Nd, Sm, Gd, Dy, or Pr.Environmental applications of REE have increased markedly over the past three decades.Widespread adoption of new energy-efficient fluorescent lamps (using Y, La, Ce, Eu, Gd, and Tb) for institutional lighting is also considerable.In many applications, REE are advantageous because of their relatively low toxicity.
- REE’s are used in HYBRID AND ELECTRIC Vehicles.
- They are used for aerospace components, microwave filters, lasers, nuclear batteries, MRI contrast agents, high refractive index glass, battery electrodes, etc.
Some Environmental Issues :
Mining rare earth metals raises environmental and geo-political issues specifically in China and Malaysia where they are heavily mined. In Malaysia, the issue is with the way the mining wastes are handled, which affects neighboring villages and towns with reported cases of birth defects. In China, they are carefully considering limiting the extraction of rare earth metals to prevent over-exploitation.
Lynas Corp And Rare Earth Elements :
An Australian company called Lynas Corp Rare Earth Elements Corporation Ltd is an ASX 100 listed company with The planned capacity is 22,000 tonnes per annum.Lynas Malaysia has generated great controversy in Malaysia because of fears by its opponents that there will be major negative health, environmental and economic impacts.Lynas corp however claims that the wastes generated can be processed and disposed of safely; and that the economic benefits to Malaysia generated by the rare earth extraction plant will be substantial.is building the world’s largest rare earth extraction plant at Gebeng near the city of Kuantan in Malaysia.