Tag: rare earth

By on June 29, 2012

For two years, the world was worried about a possible rare earth shock, triggered by the crafty Chinese. As they are withholding the dirt that is essential for magnets, motors, and generators, an electrified world will go on its knees – or so the theory went.

The opposite happened. Right when everybody was ready to blame the high prices of EVs and hybrids on the Chinese,  prices of rare earths crashed. Small miners went belly-up. And now, shockers of shockers, The Nikkei [sub] says that Japan found 200 years’ worth of rare earth near an island. Even bigger shocker: The island is not on the China side of Japan, it’s in the Pacific. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2012

Honda is mining for rare earth in unusual places: In cars.

Honda has been extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries since April. Today, the company announced it will begin reusing the extracted metals before the end of 2012. (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2012

Rare earth free electric motor

China is learning an interesting lesson: Only take a hostage if the other side wants it back. According to Japan’s Kyodo Newswire [sub], Toyota “has acquired technology to produce hybrid and electric vehicles without using rare earths and may begin doing so in about two years.” (Read More…)

By on October 8, 2011

The not quite so rare earth is getting less rare by the day. The stuff that had raised the specter of a Saudi-sized rare earth embargo by the crafty Chinese is being engineered into oblivion.It also shows up en masse in the strangest places. Such as on the bottom of the sea. (Read More…)

By on September 29, 2011

Last year, tensions ran high – about dirt. Emotions were whipped up about a Chinese embargo on stuff most people never had heard of: Rare earth.The stuff is used to make magnets that go into anything from hard drives to generators and electric motors. Cooler heads tried to point out that rare earth is not rare at all, and that China has as much a monopoly on rare earth as it has on sand. Nobody listened to the cooler heads, and rare earth prices went stratospheric. Step aside, those rare earth prices are crashing down.

Says Bloomberg: (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2011

A report by UNEP [PDF here], the UN’s environmental body, finds that recycling rates for some of the key ingredients in EV and Hybrid cars are woefully low. The chart above shows “functional recycling rates” for 60 metals, and the rate for such key elements in the production of EV and Hybrid batteries and magnets as Lithium, Vanadium, Lanthanum, Neodymium, Dysprosium, all have recycling rates of 1% or lower. Not only do many of these elements have the potential for creating ecological damage, but many (especially the so-called “rare earth elements”) are considered relatively scarce…. and not recycling exacerbates both of these issues. But, notes the report, the complex fusion of elements used in both batteries and EV magnets could present huge challenges in ever improving these rates of recycling.

Where relatively high EOL-RR [End Of Life Rates of Recycling] are derived, the impression might be given that the metals in question are being used more efficiently than those with lower rates. In reality, rates tend to reflect the degree to which materials are used in large amounts in easily recoverable applications (e. g., lead in batteries, steel in auto- mobiles), or where high value is present (e. g., gold in electronics). In contrast, where materials are used in small quantities in complex products (e. g., tantalum in electronics), or where the economic value is at present not very high, recycling is technically much more challenging.

Hat Tip: Auto123

By on March 3, 2011

Take that, China. Japanese ingenuity has devised a way around the rare earth stranglehold the wicked Chinese use to stall worldwide progress of electric vehicles. A team of researchers from Japan’s Toda Kogyo and Tohoku University succeeded in making a magnetic material without rare-earth metals, The Nikkei [sub] says. (Read More…)

By on October 20, 2010

From the New York Times to TTAC, the news is racing around the globe that China put an “embargo” on dirt. Well, it’s rare dirt, also known as Rare Earth. Why should we care about that? As the New York Times lectured us a month ago, the stuff is vital to “rangefinders on the Army’s tanks, sonar systems aboard Navy vessels and the control vanes on the Air Force’s smart bombs.” Whoa, we are a car site! Ok, rare earths “are also used in small steering control motors in conventional gasoline-powered cars as well as in motors that help propel hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius,” says the New York Times, bringing us back on topic. And what is the fuss about? (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2010

A few weeks ago, a Chinese trawler rammed a Japanese coast guard vessel ( or vice versa, depending on who’s telling  the story.) The crew was sent home, the captain was arrested. This happened near some uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea, called Diaoyu islands in China and Senkaku islands in Japan. The rocks are under Japanese administration, but are also claimed by (to make matters even more complicated) China AND Taiwan. The islands sit on top of a huge natural gas field, to make matters really interesting. To get the captain home and to make a point, China has been ratcheting up the rhetoric. China is looking for a pressure point that hurts the Japanese. First, they tried to cut off the stream of Chinese tourists that go shopping in Japan. That didn’t work.

Now, China may have found something that seriously messes with traffic in Japan. (Read More…)

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