Importance of Rare Earth elements rises, availability decreases

Due to their unique chemical and physical properties Rare Earth elements and their compounds nowadays can be found in a broad range of core components of hightech devices. A congress on September 5-6th, 2012 in the science city Münster in North Rhine-Westphalia/Germany, focusses on the increasing relevance of these materials. International experts, representing various disciplines, are invited to participate.


On the one hand technical developments in the availability and on the other hand the potential application will be discussed.


On the field of mining & recycling political changes in China as well as urban mining can play an important role. Rising prices for Rare Earths in the course of exportation attitude of leading countries are also a significant topic. Considering applications safety marks, nanobioanalytic in medical practice and innovative illuminating media (LED for example) are well known examples. Rare Earth elements are also parts of permanent magnets for example used in hard discs, generators and electric motors and then installed in the electronic industry, e-mobility or wind energy.


The rising need of Rare Earth elements and components causes concern, how long these materials will be available. The industry is responsible for establishing recycling or substituting solutions. However applications for Rare Earths seem to grow constantly. So scientists and industrial protagonists will demonstrate the latest developments during the conference.


One of the most popular European representatives is Prof. Dr. Jean-Claude Bünzli from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne/Switzerland. In addition Dr. ­Kathryn Conway of the United Nations Environment Programme will speak. From Germany Dr. Lothar Ackermann representing the research institute of minerals and metallic materials which grows crystals for optical applications will take part. Prof. Dr. Koen Binnemans, Catholic University Leuven/­Belgium, is expert for challenges and opportunities in recycling Rare Earths. Initiator und organisator of the conference is Martin Gründkemeyer, manager of the surface technology network “Netzwerk Oberfläche NRW”.


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