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Development and application of rare earth with broad prospects

The date of: 2018-09-13
viewed: 5

Rare earth has been extensively used in the traditional industries, such as steels, irons, non-ferrous metals, machinery manufacturing, petrochemical industry, glass, ceramics and agriculture, forest and husbandry.  As the “vitamins” in modern industry, thought the consumption of rare earth is small, the effect is significant with giant radical economic benefits. The rare earth streated steels and rare earth cast irons have been widely used in trains, vehicles, rails, components of automobiles, all kinds of machinery equipment, oil-gas pipeline and weapons, etc.  The rare earth aluminum wires and cables with the technical characteristics of our country have been broadly applied in the high voltage power transmission systems.  When using the rare earth catalysts for petroleum cracking in the oil refinery industry, the cost is less than o.1 billion RMB; however, the output efficiency of the light oils, such as the petroleum will be improve about 5%; the annual production volume of the light oils increase by 3 million tons, and the direct economic benefits reach more than 6 billion RMB. The technology of applying rare earth into agriculture is at the world’s leading level. The rare earth has been directly used in the agriculture for the area of 50 to 70 million mu per year as the plant growth regulator.  The annual production volume of the agricultural products increase 300 to 400 million kilos and the direct benefits reach one to 1.5 billion RMB.  The rare earth high technology is playing a more and more important role in the transforming the traditional industries.

Due to the special optical, electric and magnetic properties, a new-type high-tech industry is derived from rare earth, which is the “treasury” to research and develop various new-type function materials.  The rare earth permanent magnetic materials, especially the NdFeB magnets, honored as the “King of Magnets”, are the permanent magnetic materials with the strongest magnetism.  The appearance of such permanent magnetic materials is driving the revolutionary reform of the motive power industry.  Every kind of the rare earth permanent magnetic motors has been applied in the technology of automobiles, precision mechanism, computers, industrial automation systems, aerospace and military, etc., to improve the property of the electrical products and make them light and miniaturized.  Rare earth NI-MH batteries, as the “green energy”, are not only largely used in the laptops, mobile phones, video recorder cameras and radio recorders, etc.; they are also being developed to apply as the power sources of the future green vehicles-electric vehicles.  The rare earth luminescent materials are not only the indispensible illuminants of colored TV and all kinds of displays, also the necessary materials to manufacture he modern green lighting sources, such as the ternary energy-saving lamps and metal halide lamps, etc.  The rare earth long-persistence phosphor can absorb the sunlight at daytime and emit lights at night.  Therefore, it can be used in the signs of the railway, rods, streets and constructions for night displaying, which is convenient and energy-saving, also has the effects of decoration.  The optical recording density of rare earth magneto-optical storage materials, such as the yttrium terbium iron, is 10 times larger than the common disks with the advantages of large capacity and high access speed.  When used in the disk with high storage density, the disk can be erased for 1 million times.  These rare earth magneto-optical storage materials are important materials for the electronic information storage technology.  The rare earth erbium-doped silica fiber amplifier has been extensively used in the optical fiber communication system with intermediate amplification not required, which makes the optical fiber communication much more convenient.  At present, about 90% of laser materials are related to rare earth.  Among the 45 kinds of the commercialized laser materials in the world, more than 30 kinds of the laser materials are the rare earth laser materials, which have been broadly used in the fields of optical fiber communication, medical treatment and military technology, etc. in addition, rare earth super-magnetostrictive materials, rare earth magnetic refrigeration materials, rare earth high temperature superconductors, rare earth functional ceramic materials, rare earth compound fertilizers and rare earth medicines all have realized new science and technology achievements and been industrialized gradually.  Many projects of the National “863” Plan are related to rare earth.  The application of the rare earth into the high-tech field is still making progress with broad development prospects.  For the 20 years of reforming and opening up, the rare earth industry in our country has developed rapidly.  In 1980, the annual production volume of the products of rare earth smelting and separation was 2,500 tons, while in 2000, it reached 65,000 tons with 26 times of increase.  Among that, the annual production volume of the individual rare earth products with higher added values increased from 20 tons to 32,000 tons with 1,600 times of growth.  In addition, the domestic consumption of rare earth also increased from 1,000 tons in 1978 to 19,000 tons in 2000 with 19 times of increase.  For the rare earths produced in our country, especially the individual rare earth products with high purity, 70% to 80% of them are exported to the countries with developed industry.  Our country has become the largest county of rare earth exports in the world and it takes monopoly over the internal rare earth market at the leading position.  Though the rare earth is also very profound in America with the reserves ranked second in the world, it still imports larger amount of rare earths.  In 2000, the importing volume of rare earths of American accounts for 60% or above of its total consumption. In 2000, the total volume imported by Japan was 27,700 tons, with 22,400 tons from China, which accounts more than 80% of the total import. Compared with the developed countries, the technology of rare earth application, especially the application in the high-tech fields, still has large gap with the developed countries.  Therefore, the application market of rare earth still has tremendous development potentials.

Our country has attached much importance to the development of the rare earth industry all the way.  In 1992, Deng Xiaoping said, “There is petroleum in Middle East, while there is rare earth in China”, “Everything related to rare earth shall be in order and the advantages of rare earth in our country shall be exploited out.”  In early 1999, Jiang Zemin issued a series of directives when he visited in Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, such as “Enhance the development and application of rare earth to transform the resources advantages into economic advantages.”  To strengthen the work of rare earth, the State Development Planning Commission has specially founded a National Rare Earth Office and the corresponding Rare Earth Office in Beijing and other province, municipals and autonomous regions, which are responsible for the organization and coordination of the national and local development and application of rare earth.  In our country, none of the industries is like the rare earth industry, which has so many unique resources and industrial advantages, such surprising speed of development, gains high attentions of the Party and several generations of leaders, and receives the so high evaluation for its strategic position in the world.  The rare earth industry, especially the rare earth new materials and its application in the high-tech fields, as the “Sunrise industry”, will develop more rapidly in 21st century definitely. And the Chinese rare earth will make greater contributions to the science and technology progress, civilization development and economic prosperity of the whole human being without any doubts.


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