Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/22/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

One man's trash may be another's treasure when it comes to rare earth elements

Early miners digging for gold, silver and copper had no idea what riches would be found alongside in the piles of dirt and rocks. There's a new rush in the United States to find key components of cell phones, televisions, weapons systems, wind turbines, MRI machines and the regenerative brakes in hybrid cars and old mine tailings. These byproducts could very well contain minerals the periodic table calls rare earth elements.

Researchers discovered critical elements could be in plain sight in piles of rubble usually dismissed as worthless junk, in an example of one era's junk becoming this era's treasure.

Researchers discovered critical elements could be in plain sight in piles of rubble usually dismissed as worthless junk, in an example of one era's junk becoming this era's treasure.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/22/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Rare earth elements, China, mning, technology needs, cell phones


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Uncle Sam could be sitting on a gold mine," Larry Meinert, director of the mineral resource program for the U.S. Geological Survey says.

Both the USGS and Department of Energy are on a nationwide scramble for deposits of the elements that make magnets lighter, bring balanced hues to fluorescent lighting and color to the touch screens of Smartphones. To do so would break the monopoly the Chinese has one these supplies.

Researchers discovered critical elements could be in plain sight in piles of rubble usually dismissed as worthless junk, in an example of one era's junk becoming this era's treasure.

"Those were almost never analyzed for anything other than what they were mining for," Meinert said. "If they turn out to be valuable that is a win-win on several fronts - getting us off our dependence on China and having a resource we didn't know about."

Fifteen rare earth elements were discovered after the gold rush died down. Demand for these elements only increased over the past 10 years as electronic devices became smaller and more sophisticated.

Beginning with number 57 Lanthanum and ending with 71 Lutetium, this group of metallic chemical elements is not that rare as they are difficult to mine. The elements are difficult to mine as they occur in tiny amounts and are often stuck to each other.

Unlike metals higher up on the table such as silver and gold, there's no good agent for dissolving these elements, making mining for them tedious and expensive.

"The reason they haven't been explored for in the U.S. was because as long as China was prepared to export enough rare earths to fill the demand, everything was fine - like with the oil cartels. When China began to use them as a political tool, people began to see the vulnerability to the U.S. economy to having one source of rare earth elements," Ian Ridley, director of the USGS Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center says.

China raised prices two years ago. Neodymium, used to make Prius electric motors stronger and lighter, went from $15 a kilogram in 2009 to $500 in 2011, while Dysprosium oxide used in lasers and halide lamps went from $114 a kilogram in 2010 to $2,830 in 2011.

That's when the U.S. government went into emergency mode and sent geologists to hunt for new domestic sources.

"What we have is a clash of supply and demand. It's a global problem. A growing middle class around the world means more and more people want things like cell phones," Alex King, director of the Critical Materials Institute of the Department of Energy's Ames Research Lab says. "Our job is to solve the problem any way we can."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Green

NASA steps up in discovering extraterrestrial life Watch

Image of NASA plans to bring astronauts to Mars by 2020 to search for any possible signs of life.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

NASA's chief scientist Ellen Stofan, stated at a Washington panel discussion, that in a decade or so, there will be strong indications of life outside Earth. Stofan added that "aliens" doesn't necessarily refer to "little green men" but, this could mean "little ... continue reading


Extremely rare 'adorable' Pocket Shark discovered in Gulf of Mexico Watch

Image of The Pocket Shark is a marine animal with

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thirty-six years ago, a pocket shark was discovered off the Peru coast, and just recently, another pocket shark, reported to be only the second one seen by humans, was discovered in a study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ... continue reading


Is Yellowstone's supervolcano ready to blow? Scientists find thousands of cubic miles of magma under volcano Watch

Image of Thousands of cubic miles of magma exists under Yellowstone national park that has only recently been discovered and mapped.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Scientists have completed mapping out a new reservoir of magma underneath Yellowstone's massive supervolcano. The magma was found about 12 to 28 miles beneath the surface of the volcano and with computer mapping technology scientists have determined that it is ... continue reading


New discovery on mysterious vampire squid shocks scientists Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The number of species we have successfully discovered throughout history are only about a fifth of the speculated total number of them coexisting with us. In a recent discovery, it was found that the vampire squid has distinct difference from the true squid we know of. ... continue reading


'Apocalyptic' dust storms leave experts speechless, causes remain unclear Watch

Image of The phenomenon has occurred over decades in the past, according to a European scientist.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Unexplained phenomena of strong dust storms are sweeping cities all over the globe, blocking the sun and darkening the day. The massive dust storms, known as haboob in Arabic, begun polluting some parts of the world at the beginning of the year. Theories surfaced as ... continue reading


What NASA found on Mars will shock you! Watch

Image of Liquid water has been found in Martian soil, but that doesn't mean life is likely to be found.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is liquid water on Mars, Nasa has announced following tests done by the Curiosity rover. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This news contradicts decades of thought that Earth's neighbor was too cold and arid for liquid water to exist, and may mean that ... continue reading


Experts fear massive asteroid will hit Earth in next 3 years Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A huge asteroid, with an estimated size of 10 to 40m, is expected to come in contact with Earth, closer than it did the last time. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Asteroid 2012 TC4 was approximated at about the size of the Statue of Liberty from the torch ... continue reading


Gray whale swims from Russia to Mexico in 172 days, breaking all known records Watch

Image of Before Vavara's accomplishment, the title of the longest-migrating mammal belonged to the humpback whale.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A female western gray whale from Russia now holds the record as the mammal with the longest known migration, researchers say. Named Vavara, which is the Russian equivalent fro "Barbara," the plucky whale swam a total of 13,988 miles in 172 days. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Are farmers stealing precious water away from California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta? Watch

Image of As California enters the fourth year of drought, huge amounts of water are mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and farmers whose families for generations have tilled fertile soil there are the prime suspects.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Entering its fourth year of drought, large amounts of water is mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Farmers who have used the delta for generations are the prime suspects. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Complaints from two large ... continue reading


Small songbirds complete extraordinary nonstop flights across the Atlantic Ocean Watch

Image of The blackpoll warbler songbirds (Setophaga striata) migrate every autumn from Vermont and Nova Scotia in New England to Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Greater Antilles islands in South America.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Using backpack flight recorders, scientists have discovered that the blackpoll warbler songbirds are able fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. These tiny songbirds, weighing about 4.2 ounces (119 grams), were able to complete the flight without a stop for over 1,410 ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 11:19-26
19 Those who had scattered because of the persecution ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 87:1-3, 4-5, 6-7
1 [Of the sons of Korah Psalm Song] With its ... Read More

Gospel, John 10:22-30
22 It was the time of the feast of Dedication in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 28th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Chanel
April 28: In St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (Feast day - April 28) ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter