Friday, February 18, 2011
Energy-critical elements needed for U.S. technology
The U.S. relies on foreign sources for 90% of energy critical elements such as indium, lithium and tellurium – used in electric cars, wind turbines and solar cells. China currently produces 95% of rare earth elements.
A highly anticipated new report, Energy Critical Elements: Securing Materials for Emerging Technologies, "describes a plan to secure future supplies of rare earths and other elements critical to the development of new technologies to foster U.S energy independence."
The report notes that "A shortage of these 'energy-critical elements' (ECEs) could significantly inhibit the adoption of otherwise game-changing energy technologies. This, in turn, would limit the competitiveness of U.S. industries and the domestic scientific enterprise and, eventually, diminish the quality of life in the United States."
There are important implications from this report for Arizona.
Tellurium is used in conjunction with cadmium in solar panels produced by Tempe-based First Solar.
The report recommends against creating national stockpiles of any of the elements, except for helium. The St John's helium-CO2 field is currently under development in eastern Arizona.
at 4:31 PM