Rare Earth Metal Shortage – Another Incentive to Recycle Mobile Phones

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at 3:17 pm

The Green technology used in products such as electric cars and wind turbines requires rare earth metals and they are indeed very rare.  What’s more over 90% of them are mined in China and that country is exporting less because it increasingly wants to keep them for its own industry.

Hydrogen-powered electric barges for example use very efficient motors, but they use rare earth magnets and the power that they deliver is an integral part of most green technology that relies on electricity that is efficiently generated, stored and used.

The UK is signed up to the increasing use of green technology and plans a substantial expansion of wind generated electricity and electric cars, but they both require a steady and reliable supply of rare earth magnets.

Titanium dioxide ore has been mooted as a good source and this is available in parts of the world other than China.  However, there is a lead time to develop the necessary purification process of this chemical to produce the rare earth residue.  In the meantime, an increase in recycling of the rare earth metals found in mobile phones, laptops and other electronic products would help and eventually the two sources combined could provide a useful alternative source to China’s open-cast mines.

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