Leaching rare earth metals from ore is not an easy task, but it’s necessary because these metals are important for creating electric motors for EVs, wind turbines, and other types of electronics.
Now, because more cities and countries around the world are making plans to take advantage of renewable energy, the need for rare Earth metals is increasing at a rapid pace, and that means researchers must find new ways gain access to these elements.
So, what’s the next step? Well, scientists from Michigan Tech are looking into ways to transform carbon emissions into rare Earth metals. The idea is to use soda ash to remove carbon dioxide from the raw emissions, and then use that to create the metals we need.
But why not simply get these metals from China, since the country is home to 90 percent of them all? Well, it’s probably not a viable long-term plan to rely on a single country for the majority of rare Earth metals.
Bear in mind that geopolitics is a real thing. One should be careful because relations between countries tend to change on a regular basis, and reliability of supply can quickly be used as a weapon in discussions.
As of right now, only time will tell if Michigan Tech will be able to successfully do this magical conversion. Let’s hope so.