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By Robert Rapier on May 3, 2012 with 14 responses

Rare Earth Elements and Pyrolysis Oil — R-Squared Energy TV Ep. 20

In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I talk about the significance of China’s dominance of rare earth element production, and the conversion of pyrolysis oil into fuel.

The questions answered this week are:

1. Can you discuss the uses of ‘rare earth’ elements in the production of renewable energies (i.e., wind and solar)? Furthermore, can you comment on the supply of rare earth elements? I recently watched this video from Real Clear Energy. Is it accurate that China controls 97% of the current supplies? What implications does this have on growth of hybrid transportation, the wind and the solar industry in the USA?

2. I was watching your reports and was wondering your opinion about the feasibility of pyrolysis. I’ve seen a lot of companies advertising that they have take plastic or tires and produce 80+% and 45% pyrolysis oil respectively. Is that accurate? You also mention upgrading of pyrolysis oil, are there any companies out there who can do it on a commercially viable process? If so could you point me in the right direction?

Readers who have specific questions can send them to ask [at] consumerenergyreport [dot] com or leave the question after this post (at the original source). Consider subscribing to our YouTube channel where you’ll be able to view past and future videos.

Link to Original Article: Rare Earth Elements and Pyrolysis Oil — R-Squared Energy TV Ep. 20

By Robert Rapier

  1. By Russ Finley on May 3, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    It is my understanding that other sources will now become economically viable now that China is limiting its supply. Efficient motors for electric cars are now being made without them, imparting a small cost penalty. China’s move may eventually backfire as engineers get busy finding alternative designs.

    The beauty of trading partners is that everyone has an incentive to behave. Certainly the computers we type on would cost far more without China. Global trade is a very good thing over all and on average.

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  2. By stan on May 4, 2012 at 7:26 am

    China is NOT good for us, or anyone…..typically, Asians have little regard for human rights when it’s an industrial or political venture. Personally, I resent having to sometimes buy things from factories that install suicide nets. If we can’t pay an extra $100 for a smartphone once every 2 yrs. …then whatever happens to us economically is just too fricken bad.

    I don’t know what business school all these people have attended, but when you send jobs overseas, domestic employees don’t pay taxes on income that is non existent, and when the company that sent the work over there doesn’t pay taxes, our country is broke. Understand? 

    Try to make a politician give you a straight answer about that……

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  3. By Moiety on May 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

    There was an article in the chemical engineer in October on some of the rare earth issues (it won the article of the year BTW). If you don’t have access, pm me.

    http://www.tcetoday.com/tce%20archive/tce%202011/tce%20844.aspx

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  4. By Whirlwind on May 5, 2012 at 1:21 am

    The collapse of civilization continues with peak oil. No wonder I’m not having kids.

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  5. By Oxymaven on May 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    DoE recently posted their summary of estimated costs for pyrolysis.  They say current cost is around $4.55, and a projected cost of $2.32 in 2017. Those slides also indicate that algal gasoline or diesel is around $10-20/gal currently.  See The Analytical Basis for Setting Biofuels Technical Goals, Zia Haq, Biomass Program, US DoE  

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    • By Robert Rapier on May 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      Nice find; I may have to write a post on this one.

      Cheers, Robert

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  6. By mac on May 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Russ said:

    “It is my understanding that other sources will now become economically viable now that China is limiting its supply. Efficient motors for electric cars are now being made without them, imparting a small cost penalty. China’s move may eventually backfire as engineers get busy finding alternative designs.”

    Exactly.

    Yes,  Hitachi and Toyota both claim to have perfected synchronous ferrite based magnetic  motors.

    There are also non-synchronous phased AC motors like Tesla uses.  NO RARE EARTHS involved, just more motor windings to provide the induction field.

    A bit larger and more expensive,  but they work. 

    My bench-top grinder is an induction motor.

     

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  7. By mac on May 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Rare earth ……………..

    A magnificent topic.

     

     

    Didn’t the DOE commission Boeing the do a mapping survey of  REMs in regard to strategic materials ???  And the strategic metals law recently passed in Congress ?????

     Boeing  found some significant resources in Idaho, Montana. etc.

     

     

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  8. By mac on May 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Besides.  REMs are found in significant ( mine-able concentrations)  in the friendly, English speaking nations like Australia,  Canada,  South Africa and  the U.S.

    Huge worry,  over nothing…………”????

    Yup…………………….

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  9. By Optimist on May 10, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    China is NOT good for us, or anyone…..

    Trade doesn’t work that way. Trade happens, by definition, because both parties benefit. It’s a bit hypocritical to love the cheap stuff, but hate the people who made the cheap stuff.

    Also: US manufacturing is as strong as ever. According to Friedman 11 million US blue collar workers produce as much value as 100 million Chinese workers. So everybody wins.

    The days of paying somebody a middleclass salary to check his brain at the factory door, however, are gone for good. It is a good thing too. A challenging job is good for the worker, AND the employer.

    The collapse of civilization continues with peak oil. No wonder I’m not having kids.

    I’ll encourage you to think again about that. No experience in life can match raising kids.

    If you do it right, they might even look after you in your old age.

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  10. By mac on May 11, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Opt said and quoted:

     

    The collapse of civilization continues with peak oil. No wonder I’m not having kids.

     

    I’ll encourage you to think again about that. No experience in life can match raising kids.

     

    ”If you do it right, they might even look after you in your old age.’

    ============================================

    Thank you Optimist…..There you go…………..Well said……………..

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  11. By mac on May 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm
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  12. By mac on May 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    If you want to find out

    “What’s going to happen in the near to mid-term ?”

    Just study the R & D efforts of the auto OEMs.

    These are the folks that will bring you your next car

     

     

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  13. By Russ Finley on May 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    “In five years there will be rare earths produced all over the world and China will lose its edge,” said mining analyst John Kaiser, editor of Kaiser Research Online.

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/rare-earth-mining-rises-again/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wiredscience+%28Blog+-+Wired+Science%29

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