So it turns all those hybrid car owners who turn their environmentally conscious noses up have an unexpected caveat to their green-ness--their cars are sucking up rare earth metals at a disturbing rate.
Rare earth elements take up 17 slots on the periodic table, and are named not for their overall scarcity (they're actually quite common in trace elements throughout the Earth's core) but for the relatively uncommon minerals in which they were originally found; few rare earth elements exist in pure elemental form naturally.
Reuters spoke with commodities trader and "strategic metals expert" Jack Lifton, who claims hybrids such as the Prius uses more rare earths than any object in the world. Neodymium and lanthanum--used in allows in a hybrid's batteries and electric motor's magnets--could become increadibly scarce or even disappear altogether within the next several years. Each Prius uses 2.2 pounds of neodymium in its electric motor magnets, and 20-30 pounds of lanthanum in the batteries. And those amounts will only go up as the Prius's powertrain continues to evolve for more efficiency.
Wind turbines, another green power source, also utilize rare earth metals, and when combined with increased consumption for hybrid cars, total future demand could exceed current supply by up to 40,000 tons. [Reuters]
so it turns out that green vehicles aren't that green after all
Meh, wont be long till we get eestore up and running. And hts motors are smaller more efficient and often cheaper to make. All we need is a good way to cool them.
comment on the story: duh. Everything comes from somewhere...
Not killing the environment, but definately killing the pocket book. Think of Star Trek (I know you can), gold = worthless (the replicator/dereplicator could refine tons of the stuff with nothing but a transporter and energy). Instead, something else (di-lithium crystals that could not be so refined) was worth much.
While harvesting any element causes some environmental damage, I think the real risk to the environment here is lengthened dependence on fossil fuels when shortages on battery metals put it further out of price scale competition than it already is.
Sometimes you just cant win, as soon as nanotech takes over maybe there will be some relief.
So basically, electric motors use rare metals. Ok then. We need to work on replacing that rare earth metal with something like aluminum. Can we stop singling out hybrids now?
Thought I should add, EVERY CAR HAS AN ELECTRIC MOTOR IN IT. Even non-hybrids.
*******So basically, electric motors use rare metals. Ok then. We need to work on replacing that rare earth metal with something like aluminum. Can we stop singling out hybrids now?**********
****Thought I should add, EVERY CAR HAS AN ELECTRIC MOTOR IN IT. Even non-hybrids.*****
While we are at it, why dont we replace all those structural plastics with adobe?
Rare earth magnets are used in electric car motors to make them small, lightweight and most importantly, efficient. The starter motor in most combustion cars engines does not use rare earth magnets. If the manufacturers of these items could use cheap commonly available materials to do the job, they would already be doing so. Same reason that fuel cells are still so expensive, the materials they are made from are relatively scarce.
Our society is about out of "easy" solutions to the problems of transportation, energy, clean water, food production, etc. Future technologies to address these things will take a lot of r&d money and will not come overnight.
You guys cant read carefully can you? Noone even claimed neodymium is rare. Quite on the contrary, its abundant. Why do you think neodym magnets are dirt cheap??
Read this quote from the article again please :
"Rare earth elements take up 17 slots on the periodic table, and are named not for their overall scarcity (they're actually quite common in trace elements throughout the Earth's core) but for the relatively uncommon minerals in which they were originally found; few rare earth elements exist in pure elemental form naturally."
There are some interesting posts here tho.. Replacing neodymium with aluminum? Ever heard of a permanent magnet made out of aluminum? Or any non-ferromagnetic material? You won't hear of one either.
Cooling superconductors to -200 deg Celsius is more "affordable" and "greener"? Do you happen to have a tree growing dewars full of liquid N2?
Don't buy every little crap about "Greenness" the media is trying to feed you. The author of this article pretty much says nothing, if you carefully reread you will understand what I mean. He is just struggling to get his 5mins of attention. True, isolating neodymium is a rather lengthy procedure.. Guess what, most of the metals that are used on an industrial scale today are similar - aluminum, titanium, even some steel alloys take immense quantities of energy to be produced, releasing some rather toxic gasses at the same time .
But then again, they keep repeating the ice on the polar caps is melting, yet last I read a 30% increase in the area of the ice around Antarctica was recorded..
at least its not producing greenhouse gases
Well, it just does not stop does it? Save one aspect of the planets life blood just to take some other body part for our use!!! Is it really necessary for humans to provide for its own selfish needs without really considering the long term affects for our health and sustained life on this wonderful planet, called earth?
This is so unfair for the uninformed! Why is it in human history we continue to rape and pillage? I own a Toyota Prius and like countless others believed I was supporting the effort in reducing the affects of, not only emissions, but negative impact on the planet called earth.
Our scientists, developers and legislators must be aware of the conflict and inform societies of the impact and long term issues. This will then at least allow the planets occupants and residents to make better or reasonable decisions based on the balance of real needs, and measured probable impact for those decisions.
The responsibility on humans is significant as we historically have not demonstrated a unanimous respect for all life forms. What is the purpose of society increased demand for qualitive education when we do not consider and educate the importance of a common set of core values and reason for existence? This is not a religious or spiritual statement, nor is it that I am an overly active conservationist, but a human being who considers the future of the worlds entire population and the future of mankind.
This earth product Neodymium, if it is in abundance now, what would be the affect if we continue to increase our usage? Will the consumption adversely affect the planets ability to regenerate and sustain life? This is the question we all must ask before taking any more of the planets resources. I guess there is always horse and cart or perhaps the push bike!!
Imagine!! : The change of direction and communication pace for the earth’s inhabitants.
Imagine!! : The world population in relative peace through a common set of values and consideration for all its occupants and the ultimate life force, that the planet earth, and the atmosphere that it and other planets rely on to survive.
Although the hybrid vehicle has improved the carbon emissions during the course of the cars time on the road. The long term issues remain and the disposal issues, the potential increase of electricity use for when we go all electrics is a long term problem. It appears that the solar car and superior cheap world transport systems is going to be the way of the future.
It sound good but it wont make car green. But yes it will produce less smokes than others.
My research team and I were targeting a grant 5 years ago to develop a specific hybrid technology when we ran across this Peak Minerals issue. While rare earth minerals are not particularly rare, the extraction and refining costs have increased by x3-x8 over the past 5 years. This is not sustainable.
Two years ago, we completed an assessment of transportation options and embraced biodiesel from 2nd generation feedstocks. We are now executing on a business plan to finally end the purchase of petroleum from OPEC nations within 5 years.
etcgreen.com Article: OPEC's 50th Anniversary