Category Archives: Elements: Rare Earth

transition to “renewable” technologies require rare earth elements, 90% or more produced in China. They are in wind turbines, solar panels, and all the other high-tech that surrounds them and makes them possible: electronics, computers, microchips, cell phones, satellites, GPS systems and more

Not enough rare metals to scale up solar power

Preface. Sunshine may be free, but the materials to make solar contraptions sure aren’t.  Since sunshine arrives in a diluted form, vast expanses of solar photovoltaic panels will be needed to produce the world’s 24,000 Terawatt hours of electrical power … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Energy, Elements: Critical, Elements: Rare Earth, Mining, Photovoltaic Solar, Recycle | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why rare and valuable metals are not recycled

Preface. This is a post about why rare and critical metals aren’t recycled at all or at best, just a small percent. Basically it is still cheaper to mine them from scratch than to try to separate them out from … Continue reading

Posted in Elements: Critical, Elements: Platinum Group, Elements: Precious, Elements: Rare Earth, Recycle, Ugo Bardi | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What are rare earth metals and how are they used?

Preface.  After oil, the main feature of new products will be drastic simplification. The re-use of existing stuff. Lack of precision machine tools as they rust away. Back to basics: wood, iron, and clay. Yet every high-tech object depends on … Continue reading

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Autos need finite rare earth, critical, & precious metals

An electric car uses five times as many minerals as a conventional car (IEA 2020): IEA, Minerals used in selected power generation technologies, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/charts/minerals-used-in-selected-power-generation-technologies There are 17 rare earth elements (REE) that China controls up to 97% of … Continue reading

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Renewables: not enough minerals, energy, time or clean and green

Preface. Electricity generating contraptions like wind and solar can’t replace the 50% of oil used in global manufacturing, because they can’t generate the high heat needed, or run battery or catenary electric trucks as I explained in “When Trucks Top … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Energy, Battery - Utility Scale, Elements: Critical, Elements: Platinum Group, Elements: Rare Earth, Peak Resources, Recycle, Solar, Wind | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Minerals essential for wind, solar, and high-tech, are anything but clean and green

This is a book review of Pitron’s “The rare metals war”.  To produce the metals and minerals to make a transition to wind, solar, nuclear and so on would be incredibly destructive and filthy. A fifth of China’s arable land … Continue reading

Posted in Battery - Utility Scale, Elements: Critical, Elements: Rare Earth, Mining, Peak Resources, Photovoltaic Solar, Recycle, Wind | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Batteries are made of rare, declining, critical, and imported elements

Preface.  Since oil and other fossils are finite and emit carbon, the plan is to electrify society with batteries.  But doh!  Minerals used in batteries are finite too.  And dependent on fossil-fueled transportation and manufacturing from mining trucks, to smelter, … Continue reading

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High-Tech can’t last: limited essential elements with limited lifespans

There are 17 rare earth elements in the periodic table. About nine of those elements go into every iPhone sold… and if China were suddenly to disappear from a map tomorrow, Apple would lose about 90% of those elements.  Source: … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Energy, Cascading Failure, Elements: Critical, Elements: Rare Earth, Microchips and computers, Supply Chains | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rare: The High-Stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on Earth by Keith Veronese

Preface.  This is a book review of Keith Veronese’s book “The High-stakes race to satisfy our need for the scarcest metals on earth” (well, the kindle notes, so a bit disjointed). Capitalism believes there’s a solution for everything due to … Continue reading

Posted in Elements: Critical, Elements: Platinum Group, Elements: Precious, Elements: Rare Earth, Infrastructure, Mining, Peak Resources | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Solar Photovoltaics (PV) limited by raw materials

This paper (excerpts below) shows that there are limits to growth — there simply aren’t enough minerals in the world that can be produced physically and/or at a reasonable cost for the many of the most common kinds of PV … Continue reading

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