• Demand for Rare Minerals and Metals Creates Eco-Dilemma

    The world is crying out for rare minerals for the manufacture of electric cars, wind turbines and other technologies that we simply need more of. But how can we guarantee access to these resources without threatening the natural world and mankind as we know it?

  • Selective Separation Could Help Alleviate Shortage of Critical Metals

    A new way of processing rare-earth and other key metals to separate them from other materials could reduce environmental impact and cost.

  • USGS Seeks Public Comment on Draft List of 50 Critical Minerals

    The U.S. defines a “critical mineral” as a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic or national security of the U.S. At least every three years, the Department of the Interior is required to review and update the list of critical minerals On Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced it is seeking public comment by Dec. 9, on a draft revised list of critical minerals.

  • Estimates U.S. Recoverable Helium: 306 Billion Cubic Feet

    Helium is a lighter-than-air gas that is primarily used in medical imaging such as MRIs, semiconductor manufacturing, laser welding, aerospace, defense and energy programs. The United States is the leading supplier of helium for the world, producing about 44 percent of the total global production. The natural gas reservoirs of the United States contain an estimated 306 billion cubic feet of recoverable helium, according to a new report from the USGS.

  • How Big Was the 2020 Beirut Explosion?

    On 4 August 2020, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history pulverized a Beirut port and damaged more than half the city. The explosion resulted from the detonation of tons of ammonium nitrate, a combustible chemical compound. The explosive yield estimates varied widely, and in some cases, were inconsistent with what would be expected based on the amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the Beirut harbor.

  • The Effect of Imports of Neodymium Magnets on U.S. National Security

    The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has initiated an investigation to determine the effects on U.S. national security from imports of Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets.

  • Taliban to Gain Control over $1 trillion Mineral Wealth

    To date, the Taliban have profited from the opium and heroin trade. Now the Islamist group effectively rules a country with valuable resources that China needs to grow its economy. Afghanistan’s mineral riches will also bolster China’s dominance in rare Earth elements.

  • Hybrid Cars Twice as Vulnerable to Supply Chain Disruptions as Gas-Powered Cars

    The global computer chip shortage has hit car manufacturers especially hard, indicating the importance of supply chain resilience. But hybrid and electric cars contain many other scarce elements and materials, making them more vulnerable to supply chain problems than gas-powered models.

  • Investigating Materials for Safe, Secure Nuclear Power

    A longstanding interest in radiation’s effects on metals has drawn Michael Short into new areas such as nuclear security and microreactors.

  • Developing Cohesive, Domestic Rare Earth Element Technologies

    The U.S. has adequate domestic REE resources, but its supply chain is vulnerable due to dependence on foreign entities for separation and purification of these elements. DARPA program aims to fortify supply chain by utilizing bioengineering approaches to facilitate REE separation and purification.

  • Exploring Rare Earth Elements Opportunities

    The purified form of REE is primarily sourced from foreign nations, so the U.S. supply chain of the rare earth elements presents a problem. Justin Wilson, a Cornell chemistry professor, has received a DOE grant to develop more efficient methods of separating rare earth elements that will make their domestic availability economically viable.

  • Rare Earth Metals at the Heart of China’s Rivalry with U.S., Europe

    What if China were to cut off the United States and Europe from access to Rare Earth Elements (REEs), 17 minerals with unique characteristics which are essential to electric vehicles, wind turbines, drones, batteries, sophisticated military gear, and much more? This is a time of growing geopolitical friction among these three, and the United States and Europe want to change the current dependence on China, where, today, these minerals are largely extracted and refined.

  • The Geopolitics of Rare Earth Elements

    The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed fragility in the global supply chains for not only pharmaceuticals and crucial medical supplies but also some critical minerals. Chief among them are rare Earth elements (REEs), which are necessary for clean energy equipment, advanced military gear, and consumer goods. About 80 percent of the world’s REEs are produced and refined in China.

  • Rare Earth Supply Disruptions Have Long-Range Impacts

    Rare earth materials are essential to a variety of industries. From phones to fighter jets, a range of devices and machines rely on rare earth elements that are mined and refined largely in China. Disruptions to this supply can have wide-ranging consequences, but the understanding of how those disruptions play out in global markets is limited. A new study from explores the effects of supply disruptions such as mine shutdowns.

  • The U.S. Is Trying to Reclaim Its Rare-Earth Mantle

    Rare earths elements (REEs) are used in cancer treatment and electric engines, telescope lenses and TVs, cellphones and fighter jets. Many REEs are extracted and refined almost entirely in China. The U.S. was 100% net import reliant on rare-earth elements in 2018, importing an estimated 11,130 metric tons of compounds and metals valued at $160 million. The Department of Energy is funding research to make separating rare earths easier and more efficient, and to promote recycling. “There is a clock ticking in the background of this race for a rare-earth supply chain. There is a danger that the electric vehicle market, which will demand large quantities of critical minerals including rare earths, may move faster than the rare-earth supply chain, which would feed it,” Sabri Ben-Achour writes.