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It’s Elemental- Neodymium September 16, 2017

Posted by makingyourdashcount in Elements.
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* Please remember standard disclaimer.

You know those crazy strong magnets that are hard to unstick once placed on the fridge? Those are made from neodymium.

Number 60 on the periodic table, it is one of 17 rare earth metals and is used in lasers, as a colorant in glass and ceramics, in ceramic capacitors, and in the motors of electric cars- think Tesla. It’s also used to darken welder’s goggles, as a component in didymium glass.

Sintered neodymium iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets are the most powerful commercially available magnets in the world. (Sintering is a procedure by which materials are compacted and formed into a solid mass under crazy amounts of heat and unimaginable pressure.)

Why should you care?

This will “probably” be the material that helps levitate the Hyperloop One Midwest Connect Transport System that will connect Pittsburgh, Columbus and Chicago (30 minutes to Chicago for Garrett Popcorn!) That has to make it a favorite.
And in the other direction, I have great nieces. We can plan play dates. YEA! (Yup, it’s all about me.)

But there is something else. Most rare earth metals, including neodymium, are mined in China.

For a variety of reasons, it is easiest and most economical to mine them there. Although their supply doesn’t quite constitute a monopoly, they control enough of the market that they can use supply as a political weapon. And they have.

That should make you sleep well tonight, or not.