DOE Lays Out Plan On Rare Earths’ Availability | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 3 | p. 23 | Concentrates
Issue Date: January 16, 2012

DOE Lays Out Plan On Rare Earths’ Availability

Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: rare earths, DOE, clean energy technology

The U.S. must develop better plans to ensure the future availability of rare strategic materials, according to David Sandalow, Department of Energy assistant secretary for policy and international affairs. He presented a DOE critical materials strategy at a Center for Strategic & International Studies symposium on Jan. 5. The strategy addresses possible future shortages of rare-earth materials, which are particularly important for new clean energy technologies. These materials, he said, are not globally rare, but they are not heavily mined. The DOE strategy identifies five specific rare-earth metals—dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, europium, and yttrium—that could become scarce in the next five years. Among their uses, the materials are found in magnets in wind turbines and electric vehicles and in phosphors for energy-efficient lighting. To ease demand for these rare earths, DOE urges a combination of diversification, such as finding multiple sources of the materials, substitution of more available materials, and recycling and reuse.

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