Many industries compete for scarce raw materials (Angerer et al. 2009), and especially the clean energy sectors contribute to a large share of REE demand and are expected to grow even further in the future (USDE 2010). Table 1 gives an overview of the most relevant components manufactured from REEs and some examples of their applications.
In general, the industries reliant on REEs can be attributed to two groups: mature sectors - like catalysts, glassmaking, lighting, and metallurgy - and emerging sectors - including battery alloys, ceramics, and permanent magnets. Emerging markets still account for slightly less than half of REE demand, but it is noticeable that the largest share of consumption from these industries is driven by neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium: the three elements together represent 85% of total REE demand from the emerging sectors (Goonan 2011).
Permanent magnets seem to be the most important individual component. They are employed in highly efficient electric motors and generators that power hybrid vehicles and evehicles, but are also used in renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines, small hydropower stations, or tidal power plants. Further possible applications are magnetic levitation trains, waste sorting, medical imaging techniques, and several IT technologies. Currently wind turbines are the most significant single field of permanent magnet application (Angerer et al. 2009; EC 2008; Goonan 2011; Hatch 2008).
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