Rare earths are used in batteries and demand is expected to rise with growing applications for batteries. Which rare earths are most used in batteries, and in which types of batteries?
What are the potential applications of rare earths in batteries?
Rare earth mischmetal, containing around 85% lanthanum and 15% cerium, is used in the anode of nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries. The major market for NiMH batteries is heavy electric vehicles and power tools as lithium-ion batteries have largely replaced NiMH batteries in portable electronic equipment.
It is assessed that heavy electric vehicles will account for over 70% sales of NiMH batteries in the next 2-3 years.
NiMH batteries will be the most consumed batteries used in electric vehicles. There is likely to be some competition from lithium-ion batteries, but so far it has not been affecting the demand for NiMH batteries. NiMH batteries are also used in some portable products and other equipment such as power tool, but Li-ion batteries dominate this market.
Rare earths are used as alloys to make anode for batteries.
Lanthanum accounted for nearly half of the rare earths used in the batteries sector.