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Rare Earth Elements in the Computer Industry Essay

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Assignment 1: Rare Elements
A frightening byproduct of globalization and technological development in the modern world is the diminishing levels of rare elements used in the technology industry. Planned technological obsolescence and inefficient recycling methods are multiplying the draining effects of rare earth metal mining on a global scale. To make matters worse, demand is increasing and extraction of these elements is limited. Regardless of where- or how much of – the mining is being done globally, these rare earth elements are being depleted rapidly, used briefly, and not recycled.
The applications of these rare earth elements (REEs) are many. Neodymium, Praseodymium, and Terbium are utilized in hybrid and electric batteries, traction motors, and the regenerative braking systems in both hybrid and electric vehicles that are becoming increasingly popular as the price of crude oil rises around the world. Cerium and lanthanum are used in catalytic converters, enabling reactions in automobiles and petroleum refineries to be run at high temperatures in which efficiency is gained. Permanent magnets are used extensively in many different products; made from the rare earth neodymium and reinforced with dysprosium for performance at high temperatures, they have over 100 applications in the modern car alone. They also allow wind power generators to be gearless for better reliability and online performance, disk drive spindles to run more quickly, headphones to be smaller with faster bass response, and MRIs to generate the high strength magnetic field necessary for MRI imaging.   Yttrium, europium, and other phosphors are crucial to energy efficient lighting like compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs. Flat panel displays are reliant on these rare earth elements as well, their screens coated with REE phosphors to produce red, green, and blue elements that comprise white light. Europium is responsible for the red and blue portions of the LED backlights, while the green...

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