In recent years a larger focus has been placed on the development and improvement of renewable sources of electricity and the spread of electric vehicles, with the main aim being the promise of the reduced use of fossil fuels.
However, to make the most out of the new technology, a steady supply of rare earth elements is needed. One great advantage is represented by the fact that these elements can be recycled and reused, creating a sustainable loop that would reduce the need for mining in the long run.
The hunt for rare elements
The list of rare earth elements (also known under the name of REE) also includes 15 lanthanide elements which are featured on the period table, among which we can count lanthanum, lutetium scandium and yttrium. While they tend to be encountered more often than silver and gold, it is quite difficult to find high-quality ores.
REEs are employed at an industrial level to grant useful and practical features to electronics and technology related to the energy sector. One example is the use of Neodymium and samarium for small-scale magnets that can reduce the overall size of many devices.
Recycle and save
Recycling REEs would be a great boon for the industry as it would allow manufacturers to recover specific elements that are needed to craft goods while also reducing pollution. One major problem when mining rare earth elements are represented by the fact that vast quantities of rocks have to be processed to extract what you need.
There are also waste rocks that are made when miners seek different minerals and metals. One example is represented by the sand mines of India, which could yield REEs, but the primary goal is to find and collect titanium ore.
By making use of reprocessing and recycling more materials would be available at lower prices.