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.


  1. This means Usa have to keep good relations with China to get those valueable elements

  2. Anonymous9:28 AM

    What is the status of helium production in eastern Arizona? How much has been produced?

  3. The field is being developed by Ridgeway Arizona Oil Co., subsidiary of Enhanced Oil Resources - EOR reports that they operate "a 235,000 acre helium/CO2 Field in Arizona with approximately 15 trillion cubic feet of CO2 and over 60 billion cubic feet of helium."

    The company is developing the field and confirming reserves before beginning pipeline construction and production.

  4. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Rare-earth minerals have been reported in Mohave County. Have they been evaluated?

  5. There have been published reports of rare earths in the area going back at least to the 1940's as I recall, primarily in pegmatites. The issue is the extent and concentration of the deposits. There are companies looking at that now.