Neodymium, used in magnets, is pricey, and its supplies are in doubt
Rare Earth Metals
There might be a crack in China's domination of rare earth metals – a mud-filled crack, thanks to a discovery by Japanese scientists. Vast reserves of rare earth metals that can be mined cheaply have been found in deep-sea mud on the Pacific ocean seabed. These essential metals are needed for a wide range of technologies – from consumer electronics like smartphones and TVs to advanced weapons systems and hybrid and electric vehicles.
For the third-generation hybrid system powering the Fusion Hybrid and C-MAX Hybrid, Ford expects to be using about 500,000 pounds a year less of expensive and uncommon rare earth metals. Reduction of rare earth metals in the lithium-ion batteries and the hybrid system's electric machines lowers vehicle costs as Ford ramps up its production of hybrids and electric vehicles over the next years, allowing the automaker to offer more affordable, fuel-efficient vehicle choices to customers. Of course,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Toyota Prius C Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery
2010 Toyota Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery
Dysprosium is a chemical element with the symbol Dy and atomic number 66. It's also a rare-earth metal, found mainly in the clay ores of southern China. Dy has one of the highest magnetic strengths of any element, making it ideal for electric motors used in battery-powered vehicles, but access to this rare-earth metal can be often limited by export restrictions enforced by the Chinese government.
China's decision to begin hoarding using it's rare earth metal resources to bolster productivity in Mongolia may have Toyota bracing itself (and making use of its long-term plans) but the news is music to the ears of Molycorp Minerals LLC. They are the company with plans to re-open a Mountain Pass, California mine containing the world's richest proven reserves of rare earth metals. The open-pit quarry had been closed, along with similar operations around the world, after China began producing an