Rare Earths and their important role in Electromobility and Clean Energies

Chilean Minister of Mining highlights BioLantanidos Project during visit
April 2, 2019

Rare Earths and their important role in Electromobility and Clean Energies

Solar Panels| Alvaro Aguero – CDR Comunicaciones

Lanthanides, known worldwide as Rare Earths, are a group of 17 crucial elements in the manufacture of numerous modern technologies such as smart phones, televisions, monitors and hard drives. But in addition, they are key components in the development of solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles, becoming the basis of innovations that promote electromobility and clean energy.

Day by day, these materials are used in the manufacture of components for technologies that generate clean energy, such as the photovoltaic cells of solar panels, the batteries of electric transport vehicles and the components of wind turbines.

For example, one of these minerals, called Lanthanum, is used in the manufacture of highly developed rechargeable batteries, while Cerium is the material used in the catalytic converters of automobiles.

Meanwhile, Neodymium is used in the development of wind turbines and hybrid cars, in addition to other important devices such as medical lasers, microphones and wind turbines.

Terbium and Europium are widely used in the development of solar panels, while Dysprosium is used to make batteries in most hybrid gas and electric vehicles that use magnets, according to Nyakundi M. Michieka, Professor of Economics at the California State University (Bakersfield, USA), on the website of the entity.

Electric Vehicle

What is Electromobility?

According to the definition of the German government and its National Development Plan for Electric Mobility, electromobility includes all street vehicles that operate with an electric motor and that derive their energy mainly from the electric network. In other words: those that can be recharged externally.

This includes purely electric vehicles, vehicles with a combination of an electric motor and a small combustion engine (range-extended electric vehicles – REEV) and hybrid vehicles that can be recharged through the electric network (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles – PHEV ).

During the last years, governments of different countries around the world have made great efforts to establish agendas around electromobility, and Chile has not been the exception.

In December 2017 the Chilean Government announced the “National Strategy for Electromobility: A Path for Electric Vehicles“, which includes priority axes and actions for the promotion of electromobility in our country (you can read the full document at this link).

One of the most important goals detailed in this Strategy is related to electric mobilization: by 2050, Chile expects 40% of private vehicles and 100% of urban public transport buses to be electric.

Wind Turbines

What do we understand by Clean Energies?

For its part, clean energy corresponds to “a system of energy production excluding any pollution or management by which we get rid of all the hazardous waste for our planet”. Clean energies are, then, those that do not generate waste “, according to the RSE Commitment website.

Among the renewable sources of clean energy, we can highlight wind energy -generated mainly by wind turbines- and solar energy -captured mostly through solar panels-.

As indicated above, both types of energy use Rare Earth elements in their manufacture, key in the development of these and other green technologies.

BioLantanidos Project

In this context, BioLantanidos is positioned as the first project in Chile and one of the most innovative in the world to provide, in a safe and responsible way, the Rare Earth components necessary for the development of Electromobility and Clean Energies.

BioLantanidos will develop the so-called “elements of the future” focused in sustainability, that is, satisfying its needs for land, water, energy and other elements without compromising the needs of third parties, guaranteeing a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social welfare.

For this purpose, the Project developed a closed and continuous process that recirculates the water and additives used in order to operate with the minimum of resources, in addition to other environmental characteristics that can be read in this link.