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Rare Earth Metal Breakthrough Paves Way For Decreased Demand

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WHO NEEDS CHINA, ANYWAY?
DailyFeed
Rare earth metals continue to make headlines as questions linger over world supply and demand. With China producing more than 95% of these precious elements, world economies are largely at the whim of a country that has been anything but generous with its supply. And because discovering new deposits of rare earth metals takes a really, really long time, not to mention costing a whole lot of money, scientists have been hard at work figuring out how to get more bang from their rare earth metal buck.

And it appears that they’ve had a breakthrough. Popsci reports:

GE researchers working with a Department of Energy Grant have devised a way to use nanocomposite magnet materials to boost magnetism in alloys, getting more magnetism per pound of rare earths.

These new nanocomposite magnets work via exchange coupling, a complex physical property that can be harnessed in nanomaterials to increase magnetism. It’s all in the arrangement of the nanoparticles; exchange coupling doesn’t occur in pure magnetic alloys, but given the right mix and arrangement of nanoparticles of the same metals, researchers can get the same amount of magnetism out of less material—suddenly less is more.

We’re not exactly sure what nanoparticle-exchange-coupling-in-pure-magnetic-alloys means, but we are glad to hear that we may need a lot less of REE’s than we previously thought. So, thanks GE scientists!

For some further background on rare earth metals, check out Minyanville’s latest video, aptly titled “What Are Rare Earth Metals?”

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.
TAGS:  CHINA, GE, EARTH, RARE EARTH METALS, RARE    SOURCE:   Popsci

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