Good Earths and Rare Earths

April 27, 2011

Good things spring from the good Earth in spring. But scientists at DOE's Ames Laboratory do that all year. That’s because Iowa's Ames Laboratory is the center of DOE's efforts on a special form of good earth, the rare earth elements.

These elements, unpronounceable-ium's such as dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, europium and yttrium, are essential to a wide range of green energy technologies ranging from wind turbines to electric vehicles. (According to "Mr. Rare Earth," Ames Laboratory senior metallurgist Karl Gschneidner Jr., one new-generation windmill capable of spinning up to three megawatts of electricity requires 1,500 lbs of neodymium.) Rare earth elements are also used in mobile phones, laptops, and military applications like night-vision goggles. See the Energy Blog post.