FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON RARE EARTHS ELEMENTS
1. What are Rare Earths?
The REE group is composed of 15 elements that range in atomic number from 57 (lanthanum) to 71 (lutetium) on the periodic table of elements, and are officially referred to as the “lanthanids,” although they are commonly referred to as the “lanthanides.” Yttrium (atomic number 39) is commonly regarded as an REE because of its chemical and physical similarities and affinities with the lanthanids, and yttrium typically occurs in the same deposits as REEs. Scandium (atomic number 21) is chemically similar to, and thus sometimes included with the REEs.
2. If rare-earth are not really rare, why are they called rare-earths?
Most REEs are not as rare as the group’s name suggests. They were named “rare-earth elements” because most were identified during the 18th and 19th centuries as “earths” (originally defined as materials that could not be changed further by heat) and in comparison to other “earths,” such as lime or magnesia, they were relatively rare.
3. What are the source of Rare Earths Elements?
The principal economic sources of rare earths are the minerals bastnasite, monazite, and loparite and the lateritic ion-adsorption clays.
4. What are the unique characteristics of REEs?
The REEs have unique catalytic, metallurgical, nuclear, electrical, magnetic and luminescent properties. Their strategic importance is indicated by their use in emerging and diverse technologies that are becoming increasingly more significant in today's society. Applications range from routine (e.g., lighter flints, glass polishing mediums, car alternators) to high-technology (lasers, magnets, batteries, fibre-optic telecommunication cables) and those with futuristic purposes (high-temperature superconductivity, safe storage and transport of hydrogen for a post-hydrocarbon economy, environmental global warming and energy efficiency issues)
5. Where are REE used?
Their properties, notably as light-weight magnets, make them key to the ongoing miniaturization of electronics and the growth of green technologies. They are used in a wide range of products we use every day, including hard drives, ear bud speakers, microphones in small gadgets, smart phones, flat-screen TVs, automotive application, motors, generators, etc.
6. Why Rare Earths Elements are considered as vitamins of Modern Industry?
Rare Earth Elements (REE) are considered the "The Vitamin of Modern Industry" as they have a unique and important impact on our lives because they are critical in the manufacture of an increasing number of high-tech parts and devices. Without the rare earths, consumer culture, green technology, communications, and even aspects of defense and health care would be pale shadows of their current selves. Rare Earth Elements (REE) or “technology metals” which are essential for a wide range of applications, from smart phones, to microphones, electric and hybrid vehicles, headphones, earphones and X-ray machines, to name just a few.
7. Why are rare-earth elements so important?
These rare-earth metals are important for many high-tech uses and here are few examples:
• Television screens, computers, cell phones, silicon chips, monitor displays, long-life rechargeable batteries, camera lenses, light emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), baggage scanners, marine propulsion systems.
• High strength magnets, metal alloys, stress gauges, ceramic pigments, colorants in glassware, chemical oxidizing agent, polishing powders, plastics creation, as additives for strengthening other metals, automotive catalytic converters.
Chemicals, Oil Refining and Manufacturing:
• Rare earths make the refining of crude oil into gasoline more efficient and are used in many specialty metal alloys. They are critical to these industries worldwide.
• Portable x-ray machines, x-ray tubes, magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) contrast agents, nuclear medicine imaging, cancer treatment applications, and for genetic screening tests, medical and dental lasers.
• Lasers, optical glass, fiber optics, masers, radar detection devices, nuclear fuel rods, mercury-vapor lamps, highly reflective glass, computer memory, nuclear batteries, high temperature superconductors.
• Hybrid automobiles, wind turbines, next generation rechargeable batteries, biofuel catalysts.
8. What are the industrial application of individual Rare Earths Element?
The main industrial application of Rare Earths are detailed below: Lanthanum in Glasses, ceramics, car catalysts, phosphors, pigments, accumulators, Cerium in Polishing powders, ceramics, phosphors, glasses, catalysts, pigments, misch metal, UV filters, Praseodymium in Ceramics, glasses, pigments, Neodymium in Permanent magnets, catalysts, IR filters, pigments for glass, lasers, Promethium in Sources for measuring devices, miniature nuclear batteries, phosphors, Samarium in Permanent magnets, microwave filters, nuclear industry, Europium in Phosphors, Gadolinium in Visualization of images in medicine, optical and magnetic detection, ceramics, glasses, crystal scintillators, Terbium in Phosphors, Dysprosium in Phosphors, ceramics, nuclear industry, Holmium in Ceramics, lasers, nuclear industry, Erbiumin Ceramics, dyes for glass, optical fibers, lasers, nuclear industry, Thulium in Electron bean tubes, visualization of images in medicine, Ytterbium in Metallurgy, chemical industry, Lutetium in Single crystal scintillators, Scandium in High-strength Al-Sc alloys, electron beam tubes, Yttrium in Capacitors, phosphors, microwave filters, glasses, oxygen sensors, radars, lasers, superconductors.
9. What are the specific uses of the rare-earth elements in smart phones?
The specific uses of REEs in smart phone are:
• Praseodymium, Gadolinium and Neodymium are used in alloys in the magnets in the speaker and microphone of the smart phone
• Neodymium, Terbium and Dysprosium are used in the vibration unit of the smart phone
• Praseodymium and Neodymium are used in glass to reduce glare
• Cerium (oxide) is used to polish glass, and to extract color from colored glass
• Europium and Yttrium (oxides) produce the red colors in television screens and smart phone screens.
• Europium also is used in blue phosphors in electronic screens.