Rare Earth Metals May Be Lurking in Your Junk Drawer

Syllabus: GS-II

Subject: Geography

Topic: Resources – World and India (Metals)

Issue: Rare Earth Metals.

Context: Unused rare earths in old devices can meet 40% of demand by 2050, vital for clean energy; recycling eases mining and pollution.

Synopsis:

  • Critical for clean energy: electric vehicles, wind turbines.
  • Renewable energy allows recovering rare earths for reuse.
  • Modeling shows potential 60-67% reduction in mining by 2050.

Challenges:

  • Extracting rare earths, hazardous methods, and lack of collection systems.
  • Rare earths in electronic devices are often overlooked.

Way Forward:

  • Recycling old electronics for rare earths eco-friendly recycling techniques, like microbial extraction can alleviate supply chain vulnerability, pollution, and geopolitical risks, contributing to sustainable energy.

Prelims Top of Form

A few(Facts To know )

Rare Earth Elements

(REE) comprise 17 metals, including lanthanides, scandium, and yttrium.

Despite abundance, extraction challenges earn them the “rare” label.

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