Rare Earths Use, Alluvial Diagram

While brosing this presentation by Thomas E. Graedel, Yale University, Center for Industrial Ecology with the provocative title ‘Rare Earths and Other Scarce Metals: Technologically Vital but Usually Thrown Away’ I discovered the following distribution (aka alluvial) diagram. It was originally published in the article ‘Uncovering the end uses of the rare earth elements’ by X Du, TE Graedel in Science of the Total Environment, 2013 (pp. 781-784)

The diagram is best read from right-to-left: The right column shows ten rare earth elements (REE) and a node for the “other” five or seven REEs. Lanthanum (La), Cerium (Ce), and Neodymium (Nd) make up the largest portion mass-wise, followed by Praseodymium (Pr) and Yttrium (Y).

The middle column nodes (categories) represent technological uses of these REEs in e.g. magnets, automotive catalysts, or polishing powders.

The left column then represents the countries or regions where the components or products that contain REEs are produced: China, Japan, and the United States.

Data is for 2007. No mass unit or absolute numbers given for the diagram in this presentation, and I presently don’t have access to the original publication.

Du and Graedel have also published an interesting paper on ‘Uncovering the Global Life Cycles of the Rare Earths Elements’ where they analyse REE from mining to end-of-life with losses along the life cycle and display these data in a circular flow diagram for each REE. These “REE wheels” also call for a Sankey representation, but that will be for another time…