Friday, March 25, 2011

Still Snoozing.....

How long will this go on before someone notices?  This article includes several very telling statements that highlight the severity of the shortage and the pain that lies ahead for the United States and Western Europe.

March 24, 2011 @ 4:42 pm In Feature Articles
By Damon van der Linde - Exclusive to Rare Earth Investing News [1]
[2]The US Department of Energy (DOE) is planning for the future availability of rare earth elements, focusing only on their growing role in clean energy technologies such as magnets used in wind turbines and hybrid electric vehicles. As with other critical materials, governments are now starting to look forward, trying to predict how much of these materials are going to be needed and whether there will be an adequate supply available.
“Clean energy's share of REE use is a very small part of the pie right now; but, when you go out to 2025, it is the majority of the pie, so that's what's really driving this issue and that's our concern,” said David Diamond, speaking at the PDAC Critical Metals Emergency Forum in Toronto. Diamond is a member of the US Department of Energy Critical Metals Taskforce, and co-author of the 2010 US DOE Critical Materials Strategy [3]. “Based on the projections, by 2015 there would have to be some kind of new delta in terms of supply or advances in material efficiency like recycling to reduce the demand.”
Diamond says that there is much speculation involved in determining what the supplies and demands will be for REEs in the future because it is largely based on emerging technologies. The DOE's forecasts range from a “business as usual” scenario where the demand for clean energy technology does not increase, to projections made by the International Energy Agency, which show much more aggressive growth scenarios. Diamond says that this is a more likely scenario as clean energy technology deployment increases in order to meet different climate change targets.
“A relatively small percentage of wind turbines deployed on the market now use REEs for their magnets, but looking into the medium term that percentage is likely to go up if the market share goes up, and it's going to drive overall market penetration,” said Diamond.
Topping the list of critical REEs for clean energy technologies is dysprosium, which in the short term has both the highest supply risk and is judged to be the most important to clean energy. Dysprosium is used in magnets in applications such as drive motors for hybrid electric vehicles, which can require up to 100 grams of dysprosium per hybrid car produced. Based on Toyota's projected two million units per year, the use of dysprosium in applications such as this would quickly exhaust the available supply of the metal. Other REEs critical to clean energy technologies include yttrium, europium, terbium and neodymium.
Diamond emphasized the need for addressing this issue early, if the United States was going to continue its move towards cleaner energy and transportation. He says this will have to be done not only through securing future REE supplies, recycling and sourcing possible alternatives, but by investing in research, education other “human capital.”
“They say that China has thousands of people working on this, the US has dozens; so, there is really a need to train the next generation of scientists for a broader commission of science and technology outreach,” said Diamond.

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