Wednesday, October 21, 2020

"Geologists Solve Long-Standing Puzzle That Could Pinpoint Valuable Rare Earth Element Deposits"

Busting up China's monopoly of the value chain—Vietnam and Brazil combined match China's proven resource but haven't developed—breaking the monopoly is crucial to how all the fledgling energy technologies develop. And then there are the geo-strategic and military reasons, you don't want to depend on a potential adversary for the stuff that makes your planes fly and magnets magnet.

 From the University of Exeter via SciTechDaily, October 9:

Pioneering new research has helped geologists solve a long-standing puzzle that could help pinpoint new, untapped concentrations of some the most valuable rare earth deposits.

A team of geologists, led by Professor Frances Wall from the Camborne School of Mines, have discovered a new hypothesis to predict where rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium could be found.

The elements are among the most sought after, because they are an essential part of digital and clean energy manufacturing, including magnets in large wind turbines and electric cars motors.

For the new research, scientists conducted a series of experiments that showed sodium and potassium — rather than chlorine or fluorine as previously thought — were the key ingredients for making these rare earth elements soluble.

This is crucial as it determines whether they crystalize — making them fit for extraction — or stayed dissolved in fluids.

The experiments could therefore allow geologists to make better predictions about where the best concentrations of neodymium and dysprosium are likely to be found.

The results are published in the journal, Science Advances today (Friday, October 9th, 2020)....