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Decline of Rare Earth Metals Used In Clean Tech Might Compromise Future Innovations

Rare earth metals are a key component in the clean technologies of today, with elements like neodymium, lanthanum, dysprosium essential to the creation of hybrid and full-electric vehicles produced by Toyota in the Prius line of vehicles and their competitors in the green car market, as well as for use in generators in wind and tidal turbines. But as the production of clean technology relies upon the use of these rare metals that we’ve found little use for in the past, there’s a chance that the earth’s supply might be depleted before there is ample opportunity to take green technology to an all new level, far beyond where we are today.

The majority of the world’s rare-earth metals come out of China, and as they are beginning to make more use of these resources, a decreased supply is being exported to the rest of the world which has some vehicle manufacturers, like Toyota, that relies on these metals for use in the manufacturing process of the Prius, which in its engine uses 1 kg of neodymium and 10 kg of lanthanum for the battery worried about how that will effect their ability to produce more eco-friendly electric and hybrid vehicles.

It’s estimated that over the next few years as the use of these rare metals increase to develop more clean tech items, more than 40,000 tons of supply will be used. In order to meet this demand both California and locations in Canada are looking into developing more mining sites for these rare-earth metals so the progress being made in the development of green technologies isn’t put on hold. With a little bit of creative thinking, in the future, clean tech might also move away from metals to use something else to make green vehicles and other energy sources operate.

Via: Yahoo News

Image Via: Flikr User Handolio with a Creative Commons License

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