Recycling Rare …

Recycling Rare Earth Metals: What Does China Know That We Don’t?

Posted by June Stoyer

What Are They & Why Do They Matter?

Rare earth metals are actually not rare in and of themselves but tend to be present with other compounds in very small quantities. Rare earth metals are used for a myriad of reasons including electronics, fuel cells, fiber optics, magnets, CRT’s and LCD’s, as well as their extensive use in green technology.

Most new plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles will use lithium-ion batteries (above) rather than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in most hybrid electric vehicles.
(photo credit: /www.afdc.energy.gov)

Here is a more detailed list. (source: http://energy.gov)

  • Rechargeable batteries (in camcorders), cell phones, PDAs, laptop
  • Computers and other portable devices.
  • Wind turbines, drinking water filters, petrochemical catalysts,
  • Polishing powders, hydrogen storage, fluorescent lighting, flat panels,
  • Color televisions, glass, ceramics and automotive catalysts.
  • Fiberoptics, dental and surgical lasers, MRI systems, as medical
  • Contrast agents, in medical isotopes and in positron emission
  • Tomography scintillation detectors.
  • Magnetic refrigeration
  • Rechargeable batteries used in hybrid vehicles
  • Permanent magnets
  • Military application

China Raises Rare-Earth Export Quota

According to an article in the Wall St. Journal, by James T. Areddy and Chuin-Wei Yap

“China’s government eased its restrictions on rare-earth exports for the first time since 2005 in an apparent nod to a trade fight over Beijing’s tight global grip on production of the strategically important minerals.

But industry executives said the move will do little to shake China’s dominance of a market crucial to industries as diverse as oil refining, electric vehicles and ballistic missiles.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said Wednesday that it will permit 2.7% more volume of rare earth—30,996 metric tons—to leave the country this year than it did in 2011. The increase follows a number of tighter limits imposed …”

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

Americans continue to toss out materials that utilize rare earth metals. China profits from our waste by recycling them. They are refurbishes, repurposed and sold right back to the American market at a huge profit. At what point will Americans recognize the potential in this waste?

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

According to a research by Dr. Peter Dent from Electron Energy Corp., The total world market size for rare-earth magnetic materials was:

  • $9.1 billion in 2007 and is projected to grow to
  • $12 billion in 2011 and to
  • $21 billion by 2020
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