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Understanding the Rare Earths

Understanding the Rare Earths

Understanding the Rare Earths

Only 92 — that’s how many elements nature needs to make everything. Elements like oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon are familiar and easy to get; others, like rare earth metals and gold, are not. [Company Name] works diligently to extract and process the rare earth elements so vital to modern industry and civilization.

The rare earth metallic elements, numbers 57 to 71 on the periodic table, are separated into two categories. This includes the soft metallic elements of the lanthanide series along with yttrium (Y) and scandium (Sc). The first 14 elements are considered in the lanthanide series because they have many of the same properties as lanthanum (La)

Below is a list describing the 17 rare earth elements and some of their uses.

Lanthanum (La)

Lanthanum is a soft, silver-white metal, prone to oxidation and often found in rocks containing monazite and bastnasite, usually in combination with cerium or other metals in the lanthanide series. [Company Name] uses specialized equipment to extract the lanthanum for industrial applications and electronic component manufacturing.

Cerium (Ce)

Similar to lanthanum (La), cerium is found in combination with other rare earth elements and with uranium in samarskite. Cerium is useful in the manufacture of mantles for gas lanterns and refractory vessels.

Dysprosium (Dy)

A lanthanide, dysprosium is similar to other series elements and is difficult to locate and extract. It is a component in an oxide-nickel cement used in making nuclear reactor cooling rods.

Erbium (Er)

Also in the lanthanide series, erbium has little to distinguish it from the other members of the series. The element is commonly used to color glass and sometimes as part of laser skin smoothing procedures.

Europium (Eu)

Similar in appearance to lead, europium is the most reactive lanthanide element and is useful in manufacturing CRT screens.

Gadolinium (Gd)

A silver-white rare earth metal, gadolinium is ferromagnetic and slightly reactive. It is typically used in magnets and superconductors.

Holmium (Ho)

In the lanthanide series, holmium is reactive to moisture and temperature. It is now used in manufacturing surgical lasers.

Lutetium (Lu)

Lutetium is the hardest part of the lanthanide series and is useful for catalytic processes in the petrochemical industry and for the treatment of cancer.

Neodymium (Nd)

Neodymium is useful in the manufacture of powerful magnets and certain types of specialty glass. In the lanthanide series, it is commonly extracted from monazite.

Praseodymium (Pr)

This soft rare earth metal has practical applications in aircraft manufacturing, studio lighting, and powerful magnets. This lanthanide also enables welding goggles to filter out yellow light and infrared radiation.

Promethium (Pm)

Promethium is a radioactive lanthanide metal used in research and sometimes in atomic batteries. Not found in nature, making it requires irradiation of other lanthanide elements.

Samarium (Sm)

This silvery-white lanthanide is used in the manufacture of powerful magnets and as a doping element for optical lasers.

Scandium (Sc)

Scandium is a rare earth metal that burns quickly and is reactive to water. Aluminum-scandium alloys appear in aircraft and sporting equipment. Scandium is used to make special lighting for film and television studios.

Terbium (Tb)

You can find this soft white lanthanide certain useful alloys and low-energy lighting. Another widespread use for the element is in the magnets used for loudspeakers.

Thulium (TM)

Thulium is a soft, silver-gray lanthanide metal not often used commercially due to insufficient availability and high cost.

Ytterbium (Yb)

This soft silvery lanthanide is finding more commercial uses in memory storage devices and as an industrial catalyst due to its low toxicity.

Yttrium (Y)

This soft rare earth metal is used in manufacturing and as an element in useful alloys. Commonly used in CRT screens, it produces the color red.  When added to other elements, yttrium finds use in lasers, camera lenses, and some cancer treatments.