Rare earth elements (REEs) are used in many alternative energy, lifestyle, and defense applications. Alternative energy systems such as wind power generation, fuel cells, hydrogen storage, rechargeable batteries, and the permanent magnets used in electric and hybrid-electric vehicles all rely on rare earths. REEs are used as phosphors in many consumer displays and lighting systems, and are used in fluid cracking catalysts and catalytic converters in the oil and automotive industries. REEs are also vital for many defense technologies including precision guided munitions, targeting lasers, communications systems, airframes and aerospace engines, radar systems, optical equipment, sonar, and electronic countermeasures.
These examples demonstrate how rare earths directly affect our lives by improving the performance of alternative energy, consumer electronics and defense technologies. Each application requires different combinations and quantities of REEs, as shown in the technology cases below.