The critical raw materials issue is felt not only in Europe. Also researchers in the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) at the DOE’s Ames Laboratory are looking for innovative answers to rare-earth supply problems.
CMI teams are also exploring chemical substitutions to reduce the amount of rare-earth elements needed to make permanent magnets – magnets that have a stable magnetic field without the use of an electric current. These permanent magnets are needed for vehicles, wind turbines, speakers in cellphones and headphones, cordless tools, and much more.
Using data produced during 5 million core hours of research on the supercomputer Titan, CMI’ team will design ligands – molecules that attach with a specific rare-earth – that allow metallurgists to extract elements with minimal contamination from surrounding minerals. Through this simplified processing, savings in time and labor will increase the availability of these vital rare-earths.
More at this link.