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Are Rare Earth Metals Important?

The  International  Union  of  Pure  and  Applied  Chemistry (IUPAC)   defines  rare  earth  metals (also  rare  earth  elements)  as  one  of  a  set  of  17 elements  in  the scientific periodic  table,  specifically  15  lanthanides  plus  scandium  and  yttrium.  Contrary  to  popular  belies, rare  earth  metals, with  the  exception  of  radioactive  promethium  occur  in  plenty  in  the  earths crust. However, because  of  their  geochemical  properties, rare  earth  metals  are dispersed  and  not  found very often.

Are Rare Earth Metals Important?

Rare -earth metals are increasingly becoming a critical strategic resource. These  elements  can  be  found  in  most  high-tech  gadgets  including  state  of  the  art  military  technology. These  metals  have  several  industrial  uses  worldwide especially  in  electronic  and  electrical  fields  such  as  rechargeable  batteries, computer  memory, cell  phones, DVDs, magnets, car  catalytic  converters  among  other  uses.

Today, the  worldwide demand  for  all  the  above  mentioned  electronic  devices  has  more  than  just  doubled  and  to  fulfill  this  demand  it  is  essential  to  have  more  supply  of  the  rare  earth  elements. They  are  also  required  in  abundance  in  several  industries  such  as  petroleum  refining, glass  polishing, chemical  catalysts, metallurgy, catalytic  converters, permanent  magnet  production, television  and  monitors.

Rare-earth metals are equally important in industries that use phosphors, catalysts and polishing compounds. Such  types  of  catalysts,  some polishing compounds, and phosphors are used to make illuminating  screens  of  several  devices  along  with  optical  quality  glass.  Air  pollution  control  is  also   possible  with  these various  catalysts  and  other phosphors  made  up  of  rare  earth  elements.

 Are Rare Earth Metals Important?

The most significant use of these metals is in national defense field and military. Lanthanum  metal  is an important component of night-vision goggles, most fluorescent material and phosphors are built from Europium, Neodymium  element  in  making  guidance  systems, laser  range  finders  and  in  making  efficient  defense  communications  systems. Erbium metal is a very important component of amplifiers. Samarium element is  mainly  used  to build stealth equipment and precision guided weapons. 

Keywords: rare earth elements,lanthanum,scandium,yttrium,promethium

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