The World’s Scarcest Material.
“Rare earths” are a group of chemically similar elements that are hazardous to extract, but crucial to the manufacture of many hi-tech products. However, in time to come, these natural resources will become depleted, posing an increasingly critical issue how we plan to use them and prepare ourselves for their replacement. This interesting article profiles a few of these rare minerals. China is the main producer of 90% of the world’s rare earth metals, and going by current production demands, quite apart from politics, perhaps within 20 years, these metals will indeed be even rarer. Most rare earth elements have uses in several different fields. For example, neodymium is used to make the powerful magnets in loudspeakers and computer hard drives to enable them to be smaller and more efficient, apart from being used in green technologies such as the manufacture of wind turbines and hybrid cars; lanthanum is used in camera and telescope lenses, and in carbon lighting applications, such as studio lighting and cinema projection; and praseodymium is used to create strong metals for use in aircraft engines, and also a component of a special sort of glass, used to make visors to protect welders and glassmakers.
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