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Neodymium And Wind Turbines Essay

2892 words - 12 pages

Neodymium and Wind Turbines
Even though the rare earth elements form the largest chemical group in the periodic table, they are generally unfamiliar and do not gain much attention. Nonetheless, the rare earth elements are crucial for many application in different fields. For instance, high technology and environmental application of the rare earth elements have been importantly developed in the past few decades. One of the most important application from the rare earth elements is permanent magnets, which do not lose its magnetic field or lose the magnetic field in a very low rate in a long period of time. The reasons give such a distinguished characteristic to the magnets is that rare ...view middle of the document...

It was the shortage of these minerals that leads to the term “rare earth.”
Despite their name, rare earth elements are relatively plentiful in Earth’s crust, with cerium being in the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million, or as abundant as copper. However, instead of being found in the pure form, rare earth elements are always found together, and the pure form of them barely exists. Thulium and lutetium are the two least abundant rare earth elements, but they have an average crustal abundance that is around 200 times greater than the crustal abundance of gold. Despite the high crustal abundance, these elements are difficult to mine since they are not usually found in the concentrations that high enough for economical extraction. It means even the most abundant rare earth elements such as cerium, yttrium, lanthanum and neodymium are rarely found in extractable form because of their dispersion (REE - Rare Earth Elements and Their Uses Web).
Due to their importance in nowadays’ technology, Japanese scientists call them “the seeds of technology”, while the U.S. department of Energy calls them “technology metals.” Rare earth elements are key factors for the high technology we see in our world. They are significant ingredients of enabling green energy, medical technologies, and such advanced defense systems and telecommunication.  Due to their distinguished magnetic, phosphorescent, and catalytic properties, they became elements essential to our world of technology (Rare Element Resources Web).

One of the most significant applications of rare earth elements are rare earth elements permanent magnets. They are strong permanent magnets made from alloys of rare earth elements. They are the strongest type of permanent magnets made, producing more powerful magnetic field compared to other types such as ferrite or alnico magnets. For instance, the magnetic field typically produced by rare earth magnets can be in excess of 1.4 teslas, whereas ferrite or ceramic magnets can be in exhibit filed of 0.5 to 1 tesla. Despite the powerful strength they produce, rare earth magnets are very brittle and extremely vulnerable to corrosion. Therefore, they are usually plated or coated to protect them from breaking or crumbling into powder (Rare-earth Magnet Web).
Rare earth magnets possess an extremely strong power due to variety of reasons. One of the most important reasons is that rare earth magnets are ferromagnetic, and it means they can be permanently magnetized.
Ferromagnetism is a special magnetic behavior that is experienced by some elements such as Iron, nickel, cobalt and some of the rare earth elements. The name of this behavior comes from a Latin word “ferrum” meaning iron and not to forget that iron is one of the most important examples regarding this topic. At the atomic level, ferromagnetic materials experience quantum mechanical interaction causing the unpaired electron spins to line up parallel with each other in a region...

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