What are rare earth metals?

Heard of praseodymium and dysprosium? They sound like tongue twisters, don’t they? They’re a part of our daily lives – right inside our gaming consoles, mobile phones and digital cameras! So let’s see how they affect us.

Rare Earth Minerals
Praseodymium and dysprosium join 15 other elements in a group called ‘rare earth minerals’. They are actually not rare. They are quite widely spread out on the earth’s crust. Here’s a picture of the periodic table with the rare earths marked:

Rare Earths All Around Life
Rare earths are widely used in making electronic devices, like your computers and laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras and portable music players.

Let’s look inside a digital camera. The lens is made from a special glass that has lanthanum or lutetium in it, so that the images have no distortion. The electronic circuit board has many tiny magnets in it, made from neodymium, samarium and many other rare earths. Europium and terbium are what help make the display look so colourful. All of these elements, in just one device!

Combinations of rare earth oxides are also used to make high temperature superconductors, which are used in MRI and maglev trains. And new uses are being discovered every day.

Rare Earth Diplomacy
Few of us can imagine going out today without our mobiles and music players. We can’t imagine a house without an LCD TV or an office without laptops. In the future, we’ll have even more electronic gadgets. That means we need more supplies of rare earths.

However, concentrated ores of these minerals are quite rare. They are often found with thorium, a radioactive element. Because of this, mining and refining these elements is both expensive and dangerous.

Today, 97% of all rare earths are mined in China, from the Gobi desert. This makes countries which have many electronics industries – like Japan, India, Taiwan and South Korea – dependent on imports from China. In recent times, as China develops its own electronics industry, the availability of these minerals to other countries has been reduced.

Today a worldwide search is on for sources of rare earths outside China. India, Brazil, Canada and Australia have reserves, from which thousands of tonnes can be mined. You can see a map of rare earth deposits in India here. Recently our Prime Minister made a big deal with Japan to sell rare earths, and more deals are happening.

As we enter the international year of chemistry, we’re going to hear a lot more of these elements!

A New Method to Clean Wastewater

Seven years ago, Paul Edmiston was working on a potential way to detect the presence of explosives in his laboratory. By accident, he invited a material that acted as a powerful sponge that could absorb small organic compounds like gasoline, motor oil, and pesticides  dissolved in water.

Safely disposing of the waste from fracking without contaminating drinking water and waterways has been a major environmental and health concern. In fracking, a mix of water, sand and chemical additives is injected into a drilling well under heavy pressure to release natural gas from shale deposits. At the end of the process, some of the chemical-laden water returns to the surface along with salts, radioactive elements and other contaminants absorbed from the shale.

In 2012, Dr. Edmiston, a professor of chemistry at the College of Wooster in Ohio, is hoping that his invention, named Osorb, will have a new commercial application:  cleaning the wastewater created by the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing.

Dr. Edmiston is gambling that  the swellable glass that he stumbled upon years ago could help address the wastewater challenge. “We’re offering a solution to a problem,” he says. “As a scientist, I’m saying, ‘Here’s a really good innovation that will help treat the waste.’”

Osorb is an organosilica material, “halfway between the silica in your window and the silicone oil (the CAS number is 63148-62-9) in your tub,” he said. The molecules that make up Osorb repel water so that it cannot absorb any, which could make it a powerful tool for cleaning water. The porous substance adheres to itself, which keeps the material compressed. When it comes into contact with small molecules that can fit through its tiny pores, it expands to up to eight times its weight, Dr. Edmiston said.

So far  he  and his team have been able to treat some of the contaminants associated with flowback. Next they will  turn their attention to other substances in the wastewater like radioactive elements and rare earth metals, and scaling up the treatment system they have developed to clean the wastewater more quickly and at a lower cost. He hopes that Osorb will be useful in mitigating the environmental impact of fracking as the drilling practice spreads. “Unfortunately, we’re going to rely on hydrocarbon energy for a while,”he said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Proposed To Stop Oil Exports

According to foreign media reports, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement, he depicted a new ‘resistant’ path of economic development for Iran by stopping exporting oil in response to Western sanctions.

Iranian state television broadcasted the above statement of Khamenei. He said, the ‘resistant’ econIranomy could respond effectively to Western sanctions. Iran should stop the sale of raw materials, including mineral oil, and replace it with the development of knowledge-based economy in order to resist Western sanctions.

However, Khamenei didn’t give the concrete time and content of this plan.

It is reported that Western countries always suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of peaceful use of nuclear energy. In order to force Iran to make concessions on the nuclear issue, the United States implemented a new round of financial sanctions against Iran on July 28, the European Union officially implemented oil embargo against Iran on July 1st.

The West Sued China’s Exports of Rare Earths To the WTO

On the “Dispute Settlement Body” meeting of the WTO held on July 10th, the U.S., EU members and Japan required to set a “Expert Group” that could impose restrictions on the Chinese rare earth export. Due to Chinese opposition, the meeting eventually postponed the decision to set up a expert group.

It can be expected that the expert group is likely to be set up in the Trade Dispute Settlement Body meeting which held on July 23. According to the statements of the United States, Europe countries and Japan, the proposal of this request is because those consultations on the issue that China had carried out do not solve the existing problems.

China said that its rare earth (CAS:68037-33-2)policy aimed at protecting natural resources and achieving sustainable economic development. The China can not accept the decision of the establishment of an expert group.

Perfluorodecalin: Uses & Global Warming

Perfluorodecalin (C10F18, henceforth PFD) has anumber of medical applications stemming from its use in first-generation perfluorocarbon (PFC)-based blood substitutes. However, the 100-year GWP, used within the Kyoto Protocol, is insensitive to gross uncertainties in the lifetime of PFD.

PFD exists in two isomers: cis- and trans-PFD. The spectrum of trans-PFD was derived by subtraction of the cis-PFD features from a spectrum of the mixed isomers. The spectra were obtained by expanding calibrated volumes into the chamber. The gas sample was flushed into the chamber using air diluent; the use of a gas spreader in the chamber assured turbulent mixing.

Some studies have shown that formulas that include Perflurodecalin improve the skin’s barrier function resulting in increased moisturizing efficacy. However, there are no studies to prove that added oxygen can actually repair wrinkled skin or prevent lines from forming. Conversely, too much oxygen can enhance the number of unstable oxygen molecules which cause free radical damage.

Perfluorodecalin is a fluorocarbon and derivative of decalin, and used in cosmetics and beauty products as to dissolve and deliver oxygen to the skin in formulas (Wikipedia). It is also used as a skin conditioning agent, detangler, and solvent in some formulas. Its ability to dissolve oxygen is thought to revitalize skin and reduce wrinkles, increasing the partial pressure of oxygen (pO2), according to research.

The GWP is calculated using the same method and absolute GWP for CO2 as given in IPCC (2001). A radiative efficiency of 0.56Wm2 ppbv1 and a lifetime of 1000 years, yield GWPs of 5100, 7200 and 9200 relative to CO2 at time horizons of 20, 100 and 500
years, respectively. Because the GWP is reported on a per mass basis, and Perfluorodecalin has alarge molecular weight, its GWP is slightly weaker than many other PFCs, despite its large radiative efficiency. Nevertheless, its GWP remains comparable to the IPCC(2001) 100-year GWP for CF4 of 5700.

The Cosmetic Database rates Perfluorodecalin (CAS No. 306-94-5)as a low hazard and notes only organ toxicity at high doses unlikely to be present in cosmetic formulas. No other studies were found that showed adverse side effects to Perfluorodecalin. It is reproted that, for what we believe is the first time, the infrared absorption cross-sections, radiative efficiency, GWP and atmospheric abundances of PFD.

Although, at current concentrations, PFD makes a trivial contribution to climate change, the principal motivation for this study is that potential future uses might lead to significantly higher releases. For a balanced assessment of the desirability of these uses, it is important that values of the GWP are available.

Tungsten In the World Of Light Bulbs

Tungsten is a metallic chemical element classified among the transition metals of the periodic table of elements. In continental Europe, the chemical is often referred to by the alternative name of wolfram. That’s why its chemical symbol is W and not T or Tu. The element is well known for its strength and durability, which make it extremely useful in a wide range of industrial applications.

People have known about the existence of tungsten since at least the early 1700s, when observers noted that the metal interacted with tin. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as a metal in 1783. Its important ores include wolfram and sheltie. In 1784, the de Elhuyar brothers managed to isolate it in Spain, using tungstic acid extracted from wolframite.

The chemical is alloyed with steel to form tough metals that are stable at high temperatures. The worlds tungsten resources are scattered, many different countries control various amounts of it be- cause of how much is in their land. Western Europe controls 30% of the worlds total resources. North America and China both control 25%. Japan controls about 13% and the remaining resources are in smaller countries with only small mines.

This element is not found in a pure form in nature. If contaminated with other materials, tungsten becomes brittle and difficult to work with. It has the highest melting point and lowest vapor pressure of all metals. It also has excellent corrosion resistance and is not attacked easily by most mineral acids, so it is used a lot for glass-to-metal seals.

It forms compounds with calcium and magnesium that have phosphorescent properties and are used in fluorescent light bulbs. Tungsten carbide (WC) is an extremely hard compound. It is used in the tips of drill bits, high speed cutting tools and in mining machinery. Tungsten hexacarbonyl (also called tungsten carbonyl) is the chemical compound with the formula W(CO)6. This colorless compound, like its chromium and molybdenum analogs, is noteworthy as a volatile, air-stable derivative of tungsten in its zero oxidation state.


While tungsten tools can be expensive, many workers like them because of their durability and long lifetimes. One of the most famous uses of tungsten is as a filament in light bulbs. Tungsten is also used as a target for X-ray production, as heating elements in electric furnaces and for parts of spacecraft and missiles which must withstand high temperatures. Many structural metal alloys incorporate tungsten since the metal has an extremely high melting point, and the element is also used to make wear-resistant tools.

The Contract Price Of TiO2 Of North America Remains Unchanged In Three Quarters

It is reported that, news sources has confirmed on Tuesday,  the contract price of titanium dioxide (TiO2) of North America in these three quarters will remain unchanged, it is the first time that manufacturers failed to achieve price increases in three years since.

According to ICIS assessment, the contract price of titanium dioxide in North America hold stable at 2.00-2.12 dollars / pounds. Since the fourth quarter of 2009, the contract price of U.S. Titanium Dioxide was 1.09-1.19 U.S. $ / lb at that time, after then the price had been rised, compared to three years ago, the current price rose about 90 percent.

Some buyers said that the main reason of the failure to achieve price increases due to the weak demand in the third quarter this year and too much inventory, it is expected that this demand will continue to maintain a weak state in the second half of this year. However, some paint manufacturers are still optimistic about the market outlook for this year. A manufacturers of plastic compounds said, some manufacturers may seek to raise prices in October. Some manufacturers of titanium dioxide in North American include DuPont, the Cristal, Kronos, TRONOX and Huntsman.

Weak Global Economy Causees Little Decrease In Rubber Prices

According to the result of a research conducted by the Yves International Plantation Companies (La SocieteInternationale de Plantations d”Heveas, SIPH), the rubber price tendeds to fall this year.

It is reported that 50 percentage of the products of SIPH which was regarded as the professional management company of the world’s natural rubber were supplied to Michelin. The market researchers of SIPH believe that due to the lack of confidence in the prospects of the global automotive industry, especially the unknown prospects of the development of the emerging economies of China which regarded as the representative, leading to weak demand in the international tire market, and then the market trend becomes “difficult to judge”.

The research also shows that the economic growth rate of China which is the world’s largest natural rubber consumer market will expected from the original 8% down to 7.5% in the year of 2012. Thus experts expected that the tend of the world’s natural rubber consumption will decline once again that is similar in 2009. However, what is different is that the market in 2009 restored soon after, but the current market doesn’t appear any signs of a rebound.

According to the report, this year the international market price of natural rubber has dropped to $ 3 per kilogram, and is different to the basic price over 5 U.S. dollars per kilogram in 2011.


The U.S. Will Get Rid Of Dependence On Middle Eastern Oil In 2020?

The Chinese online edition of American Wall Street Journal reported on June 27:

Energy analysts predict that due to the declining demand and the rapid increase of  new sources of oil in the Western Hemisphere, the United States will cut the quantity of oil imported from the Middle East to half in 2020, and possibly get rid of the dependence on Middle Eastern oil until 2035.

The reason for this change is because that the technology has been enhanced, and the rock formations of shale, oil sands and the ocean floor depths of petroleum resources can be released. This shift will have a profound impact on the U.S. economy and energy security. A large part of this amazing transformation thanks to the hydraulic fracturing technology. In the past 10 years, the hydraulic fracturing technology gradually improved, so that the oilfield in America that not optimistic in the past thus been developed.

Department of Energy of U.S. said that, the production of crude oil will be able to meet nearly half of domestic demand in 2020, of which 82% of the resources from the West Bank Atlantic. At the same time, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) recenly  expect that, oil shipments from the Middle East to North America almost completely disappeared in 2035, partly because of more energy-efficient car engines and renewable fuels will help to suppress the demand for oil.

This change makes a long-sought goal that decided by policy markers come true: to get more oil from the surrounding areas and more stable source, thus reducing oil dependency on the remote and volatile region. Pascual, the highest officials of the U.S. State Department, said in an interview, once someone actually worried about Middle East oil supply disruptions and whether the U.S. could maintain a sustainable supply of  petroleum resigns, but now the situation has changed.

Pascual said that we need continue to focus on the functioning of the global market, because the stability of the market in line meets our fundamental interests. The officials stressed that the Middle East in U.S. foreign policy is still in an important position, in part because the region will continue to impact on global oil prices.

Nevertheless, due to the increasing production of domestic energy, the United States will be able to gradually reduce the attention of this highly variable region. The revival of the U.S. oil will lead to more lower oil prices, and then boost the U.S. economy in the global economic slowdown.

Lithium carbonate: Medicine & Industry

Lithium carbonate is a chemical compound that is often used in the creation of different types of products, including drug. It is prescribed to treat a wide variety of conditions such as bipolar disorder. In recent years, topical ointments containing this compound have been developed to treat various types of skin irritations.

The compound was firstly used in the middle of the 19th century focused around utilizing the compound in treating different ailments. Soon after, it was found to be useful in facilitating the dissolution of blockages in the bladder. By the middle of the 20th century, lithium carbonate was found to have a positive impact when used to treat people suffering from different types of depression. Doctors also began to employ the compound to treat stiffness in the joints, headaches, and even gout.

Nowdays, it is usually applied to restore and maintain emotional balance among patients who are dealing with bipolar disorders. Through prescribing does of lithium carbonate, it is possible to regulate chemical reactions in the brain, and then prevent the severe mood swings that are the earmarks of this mental condition. This effect allows the individual suffering from bipolar disorder go enjoy a more balanced perception, which in turn helps to promote cognition and allow the patient to interact easily with others.

In addition to medicinal uses, lithium carbonate can also be used to make glass products that have a high tolerance to heat. This chemical is widely used by global industrial enterprises. Canada Lithium Corp has received the mining licence from Québec’s Ministère Des Resources Naturelles et de la Faune (MNRF) for its Québec Lithium project near Val d’Or.

With the permit of the mining licence, mining operations will start at the end of 2012 and production of first lithium carbonate at the end of the first quarter of 2013. The operations will commence at the production rate of one million tons of ore per year to produce approximately 20,000 tons of battery-grade lithium carbonate.

The excavators and haul trucks in main mining fleet are on-site and pre-stripping of the pit area and orebody is slated to start in late July. It also said the granting of the mining license follows recent approvals for the location of the tailings management facility (TMF), waste dumps and mill site and other permits are anticipated, including an operating permit for the TMF.