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Lanthanides: Resource Sustainability

  1. David A. Atwood

Published Online: 17 DEC 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119951438.eibc2095

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Atwood, D. A. 2012. Lanthanides: Resource Sustainability. Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. University of Kentucky, KY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 DEC 2012


Rare earth elements have unique electronic, optical, luminescent, and magnetic properties that make them critically important in a broad range of products and applications. For example, rare earth elements are used as catalysts, in manufacturing, medicine, ceramics, and glasses. They are fundamentally important in the generation of clean energy and carbon-free means of transportation. Projected growth rates of rare earth element demands will, for some elements, exceed production capabilities within several decades. Moreover, rare earth elements are currently mined, concentrated, and used in such an unsustainable manner that these critically important elements are unavailable for future generations. Making rare earth resources sustainable requires not only a careful economic assessment but also a determination of environmental and societal impacts. New chemical and engineering technologies are required to achieve this goal, beginning with the recycling and reuse of existing products. Ultimately, products and applications should be designed so that rare earth elements can be immediately and economically reused.


  • sustainability;
  • strategic elements;
  • endangered elements;
  • clean energy;
  • consumption;
  • recycling