REEs: Common Applications


"REEs are as difficult to understand as they are to pronounce. . ."

REEs, which comprise 17 different elements on the periodic table, can be confusing to the average investor. Neodymium, dysprosium, ytterbium and praseodymium are just a few metals in this dynamic market. . .The better an investor can understand the individual metals, and their uses, they better their ability to capitalize on each unique opportunity as it arises. This is a guide to understanding the various metals inside the rare earth market.

Neodymium's main application is for high strength magnets. Neodymium magnets are the strongest permanent magnets known. These magnets are used in a wide variety of products such as microphones and speaker systems where low mass, small volume and strong magnetic fields are needed. For larger industrial use, neodymium magnets are used in high power electric motors such as those found in hybrid and electrical vehicles. Also, the magnets are used in electrical generation in numerous new renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines.

Dysprosium is often used along with vanadium and other elements in the manufacturing of laser materials. The elements' high thermal neutron-absorption cross-section is ideal for making neutron-absorbing control rods in nuclear reactors. It's high susceptibility to magnetization makes it ideal for use in various data storage applications including hard disks, as well as hybrid cars.

Lanthanum is used mainly in nickel-metal hydride batteries, and other battery systems like lithium-ion batteries that are used in almost every handheld electronic device. "Every Toyota Prius on the road uses 1 kg. of neodymium and nearly 30 lbs. of lanthanum in its lithium battery," reported Aaron Levit for Investopedia.

Terbium is a critical ingredient in CFL bulbs, which are taking over the standard light for almost all consumer applications for their low energy consumption. The metal is also used in naval sonar systems.

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