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Issue 35
, 2012
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MIT: Rare earth demand to outstrip supply

Jake Thomas
Source: Recycling, E- Scrap News, Date: , 2012

Rising demand for rare earth minerals could outstrip demand, according to new research from scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The research published by MIT scientists in the journal Environmental Science & Technology examined 10 of 17 rare earth metals. Of these 10, MIT researchers found that two of them are likely to face supply shortfalls as low-carbon clean-energy technologies take flight. Over the next 25 year, demand for dysprosium, a rare earth used in electric vehicles, could increase by 2,600 percent, according to their research, and demand for neodymium, used in wind turbines, could increase by as much as 700 percent. Currently, both materials are imported almost exclusively from China, and shortages for both could be on the horizon, researchers found.

Rare earth metals are essential to the production of all types of electronics, ranging from solar panels, to batteries, to consumer electronics. The tightness of supply and increasing price have prompted a flurry of research funding relating.