Periodic table entry for dysprosium. Image credit:Wikimedia.
China produces 95% of the worlds supply of the rare earth metal, dysprosium, a key metal in magnets used in the drive motors for hybrid electric vehicles - up to 100 grams of dysprosium per hybrid car produced, according to a Wikipedia reference. Dysprosium's magnetic properties also make it an important metal for wind turbines and electric vehicles. Could be vital for MagLev trains, too.
Scarcity of the metal is a sustainability and a political issue, according to a recent article in the TimesOnline, Crunch looms for green technology as China tightens grip on rare-earth metals. This does not look good.
Don Burbar, the chief executive of Avalon Rare Metals, said: "The crux of the matter is that there are now a lot of technologies that can't work without rare earths, and China is currently in effective control of the global supply. China has positioned itself to retain control, and meanwhile politicians around the world do not appreciate how the supply side of green technology works."A company called Great Western Minerals Group is exploring for a rare earth minerals, west of Salt Lake City Utah; but, other than that, China controls a vital element for a renewable energy driven future.
In Japan, the world's biggest importer of rare-earth metals, more than 10,000 tonnes per year — about a fifth of the country's total annual consumption — are thought to enter the country through a thriving black import network without which Japan would already be in a severe supply crisis, a senior government official said.
More on magnets that incorporate rare earth metals.
Scientists a Step Closer to Super Magnets for Energy-Efficient ...
The World's First "Magnetic Levitation" Wind Turbines Unveiled in ...
"Magnetic Fridge" Could Be 40% More Efficient