8 Dec 2015

The race for rare earths

From Nine To Noon, 9:38 am on 8 December 2015

If the world is to limit itself to two degrees of global warming it will need to rapidly embrace new power sources and energy efficient technologies. At the heart of those technologies is a group of about 50 elements with obscure sounding names like Tantalum, Dysprosium, Europium and Neodymium. Collectively they're known as rare earth elements or rare earth metals. The first part of that name is the problem, rare earth elements are, well, rare and what's more they can be extremely difficult and environmentally damaging to extract. David Abraham is the Technology Director at the Rare and Electronic Materials Center at the Washington DC based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. He's recently authored a book The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age