American Companies Intensify Efforts to Boost Domestic Production of Rare Earth Elements
For many years, China has controlled the rare earth element supply chain. Utilizing more ecologically friendly manufacturing, the United States is attempting to construct its plants.
“There is a foreign dependency. According to CEO of Noveon Magnetics Scott Dunn, “It’s not getting better.” “A lot of years and a lot of dollars have to be invested in this space.”
Noveon Magnetics is providing a sustainable shortcut to help boost domestic manufacturing of Rare Earth Magnets. “We kind of just cut through the whole network. We provide the market with a finished product by utilizing leftover magnetic material directly in the magnet manufacturing process,” Dunn stated.
The majority of rare earth elements in the world end up in landfills; less than 1% are recycled. “Most of this material is discarded and not recovered,” said Dunn. It’s a little difficult to deal with. When weighed against other metals that would be more recoverable, they are found in smaller percentages.
By using old magnets to make new ones, Noveon is attempting to turn around the Chinese supply chain. These are going to be employed in vehicles, medical devices, and the production of renewable energy.
“We take apart motors and generators and things like that,” Dunn stated. “Old hybrid vehicles can become magnetic material for new next-generation hybrid vehicles.”
Mining, separation, and alloy manufacture are some of the processes that are subject to stringent environmental restrictions. Recycling rare earth magnets helps avoid these stages.
China should not dictate the future of the United States or Texas. In his State of the State speech this year, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated from Noveon’s manufacturing floor, “We must embrace innovation like Noveon to make Texas more self-reliant, to create our products, and to secure the Texas of tomorrow.”
From Delaware to Texas, Dunn relocated his business. He claims that the state has been favorable for manufacturing and thinks that, as the market for magnets grows, more should be done to support American businesses in raising their output.
“Once upon a time, Rare Earth Magnets were just an application that made sense for the hard disk drive,” Dunn explained. “As we move further and forward towards, electric, high-tech, low-carbon technology, the magnet is playing an increasing role in all of those technologies pretty much across the board.”
In terms of another link in the Rare Earth supply chain, U.S. Critical Materials, a mining firm, and Idaho National Laboratory are concentrating on closing the gap. U.S. Critical Materials Executive Chairman Edward Cowle stated, “We’re going to use cutting-edge technology.”
There are 17 labs run by the Energy Department, including the Idaho National Lab. It focuses on security solutions, renewable energy, and nuclear research.
According to Material Separations and Analysis Scientist Robert Fox, “China has a significant amount of capacity for separation and refining, in addition to production.” It’s not like we have to outperform them. All we need to do is be able to fairly challenge the global monopoly.”
The next eight months will be dedicated to the development of novel and sustainable processes for the separation and processing of rare earth elements.
“The environmental laws have become more stringent over the years to maintain a clean and healthy and diverse environment,” Fox explained. “We examine the environmental laws and conclude that compliance with their strict regulations presents obstacles. How can we create technology that enables environmentally friendly manufacturing or resource recovery?”
The Sheep Creek Mine ore owned by U.S. Critical Materials will be utilized in the development of novel refining methods. “We sent about 70 pounds of our ore to Idaho National Labs six months ago so that they can determine this was a project they could do,” Cowle explained.
Sheep Creek is currently using a permit for exploration. The region possesses large concentrations of rare earth elements, according to U.S. Critical Materials. The company intends to expedite the permitting process by requesting a drilling permit early in the next year.
A range of Rare Earth Elements are frequently found in coal. The Energy Department has put millions of dollars into initiatives that will set up production lines to extract rare earth elements from reserves of more than 250 billion tons of coal.
“The role that those materials play in our energy future is significant,” said Dunn. “I think America is capable of more and more of that as long as some of the right political and economic incentive is addressed.”