291835 Critical Materials: Resilience and Sustainability Implications for Emerging Clean Energy Technologies

Monday, October 29, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Berlyn Hubler, Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, George Zaimes, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, Shuo Wang, University of Pittsburgh and Vikas Khanna, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

In this study, a model was developed to evaluate global Rare Earth Element (REE) consumption for multiple growth scenarios of wind energy and electric vehicles (EV).  Based on historical data, market predictions, and global production targets, high and low scenarios for implementation, as well as material intensity, were established.  The model was used to assess global short- and long-term supply chain vulnerability of Neodymium (Nd) and Dysprosium (Dy) under high and low adoption scenarios.  It was determined that for the high scenario, demand for Dy from EV and wind energy could require 160% of its 2015 production, while 100% of the Nd produced in 2022 would need to be dedicated solely to these applications.  In addition to the market implications, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was utilized to quantify the resource and energy intensity of producing Rare Earth Oxides (REO).  When compared to other commonly manufactured materials, REO have the highest primary energy consumption, as well as the highest greenhouse gas emissions per kg of material.  Due to the environmental impacts of REO production, in combination with potential supply shortages, it is recommended that recycling of REE be studied further.

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