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We're not sure what "grain boundary diffusion" means, but it has something to do with the Nissan Leaf all-electric vehicle substantially cutting its use of rare-earth minerals in its electric motor, so we're all for it. The Japanese automaker says that, starting in November, it began building electric motors for the Leaf that use 40 percent less of the rare-earth mineral dysprosium than before. Dysprosium was used to make the fast-spinning magnets inside the electric motor more heat resistant, b

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The supply of rare earth metals used in the manufacture of nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries and permanent magnet motors that are found in most hybrids has been somewhat uncertain the past few years, what with China's lock on the supply and its recent policy of limiting exports. While there are a number of possible solutions and workarounds, Honda is tackling the problem using an approach we can heartily endorse: recycling.

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It's not a secret that China has a near stranglehold on the world's supply of rare earth metals, but when President Obama spoke out against that country's control of the market today, the information probably spiked a bit on people's "is that true?" meters.

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China's number one rare earth firm announced on Tuesday that it would suspend all operations immediately, according to Nikkei. The Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-Tech shutdown is reportedly a direct action aimed at countering falling rare earth prices

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A mining project on a mountain ridge on Alaska's Prince of Wales Island may unlock a motherlode of rare earth resources, which are important components of many of today's electric drive vehicles.

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A group of specialist engineering technology firms is set to embark on the development of next-generation electric-drive systems that do not require rare earth metals. UK-based Sevcon will lead the collaborative project that includes Cummins Generator Technologies and Newcastle University's Power Electronics and Drives Research Group to develop traction drive units for use in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric-only vehicles.

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Government officials in China have reportedly ordered three rare earth mines to halt extraction by year's end. According to Xinhua, Jiangxi, a province in southern China, has reportedly issued a notice to three of its eight major rare earth-producing counties ordering the halt, says Li Guoqing, director of the mining management bureau in Ganzhou, China.

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It's been reported that soaring demand for rare earth metals will likely drive prices way up. This concept of demand = increased prices is supported by numerous individuals and firms. First, there's the report from Metal-Pages, which indicates that the price of neodymium, an element used in electric motors, doubled in 2010. Then there's Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry, who indicates that "prices will gyrate upward, adding cost to any automaker building hybrids." Finally, Roskill Consulting

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Most hybrid and electric vehicles rely on rare earth metals. There'd be nothing wrong with that if China didn't supply in excess of 90 percent of the world's rare earth metals. Why is this a problem? Because China's recent decision to slash export quotas on rare earth metals has caused a surge in prices, for one thing.

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China's commerce ministry, along with other government agencies, is reportedly considering full-year export quotas on rare earth metals. While the ministry pledges to set quotas in accordance with World Trade Organization rules, abiding by those guidelines still provides China with significant leeway. In the second half of last year, for example, China slashed its export quotas by 72 percent. Since China supplies in excess of 90 percent of world's rare earth metals, this move triggered an immedi

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Toyota Prius C Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Toyota Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Toyota Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Ever hear of neodymium? How about dysprosium or yttrium? Thulium or lutetium? These are just some of the metals that China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is considering either banning for export or at least severely limiting the amount that it will let leave the country. These precious metals are used in manufacturing new, sometimes green, technologies, and China wants keep the good available for domestic use.

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