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ASTM Declarable Substances Committee forms subcommittee on rare earth materials

21 November 2012

Public policy decisions on rare earth materials will have an influence on industry and affect future standardization efforts. Acknowledging this importance, ASTM International Committee F40 on Declarable Substances in Materials has formed a new subcommittee, F40.04 on Rare Earth Materials. The subcommittee, which will promote knowledge, stimulate research and implement technology through the development of standards for rare earth materials, recently had its first meeting during the F40 meetings 14-15 Nov. in Atlanta, Ga.

Standards developed by F40.04 will be used across a wide range of industries, including defense, energy, automotive, electronics and mining. The subcommittee welcomes participation from all interested parties, particularly industry material researchers and innovators using rare earth materials as well as those involved in electronics and recycling.

Rare earth materials are a set of 17 chemical elements, including the 15 lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium. The mining, refining and recycling of rare earth materials needs to be carefully managed to prevent potential environmental consequences.

More standardized production, refining and quality will speed up innovation by having rare earth materials more readily available in specified qualities and grades, yielding more predictable properties and needing less REMs, as they can be difficult to separate. Moreover, reuse and recycling become easier and less demanding with standards, for example, labeling. All this helps in reducing environmental impact when mining REMs. An example is creating advanced materials for stronger magnets. These magnets can be used in new generations of windmill dynamos to create green electrical energy.

—Taco van der Maten, product manager XRF, PANalytical

Van der Maten also notes that F40.04 will be working with other ASTM technical committees and national and international organizations having mutual or related interests. One important example of this is ASTM Committee E01 on Analytical Chemistry for Metals, Ores and Related Materials, from which F40.04 hopes to receive input on the first and last parts of the value chain of rare earth materials.

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