Rare Earth Minerals
Critical materials are used in many products important to the economy. There are 35 mineral commodities identified as critical materials by US Deparment of Energy. It has assessed material criticality based on importance to a range of energy technologies and the potential for supply chain disruption. To address such issues, we conduct research and development (R&D) for rare earth minerals. We endevour for improving the productivity, competitiveness, and energy efficiency. The R&D efforts are focused on Reduce lifecycle energy and resource by leveraging diverse domestic energy resources and materials, while strengthening environmental stewardship. In this regard, innovative technologies and practices are required to strengthen and advance the workforce also.
Cobalt (Co), lithium (Li), manganese (Mn) and natural graphite are critical materials used in the production of lithium-ion batteries used in EVs and grid storage. In the battery cathode Co enables high energy density and thermal stability, Li enables electron flow for recharging in secondary batteries and is lightweight, allowing for compact design, and Mn enables low internal resistance. In the battery anode graphite is highly conductive, able to handle accumulation of Li ions while charging.
The push towards renewable energy sources have led to focus on exploration and recovery of conducive rare earth elements. One of such elements is Lithium which has found its utility in electric batteries due to its lightweight, high specific heat capacity and redox potential, and enabling capacity of electron flow for recharging in batteries. Batteries represent 46 percent of the end-use market of Lithium, which is considered to be a strategic mineral. The highest potential growth sector for Lithium is in batteries. Since the year 2000, the use of Lithium in batteries has increased by 20 percent each year. Lithium-ion batteries (LIB) can be either single-use or rechargeable, and are classified as primary batteries or secondary batteries, respectively. Secondary Lithium batteries have seen increased demand in personal electronics over their non-lithium battery counterpart equivalents.