About Us – Vision & Mission
Rare earth elements (“rare earths” or “REE”) are vital for a wide range of green energy technologies, from hybrid/electric cars to efficient light bulbs to large wind turbines. The supply of rare earths is nearly monopolized by China, which currently accounts for 93 percent of the world rare earth production and more than 99 percent of such element dysprosium and terbium. Thus, any initiative to significantly make the U.S. energy sector “greener” and moving it toward sustainability depends heavily on the importation of rare earths from China.
The Penn State Research Group on Rare Earth Elements and Sustainability focuses on the complex issues of rare earth elements and sustainability. We take a multi-disciplinary approach and assemble Penn State expertise in mineral engineering, material science, economic and policy analysis, and international politics. The issues to be examined include the impacts of China’s near monopoly on rare earth markets, green technology development and the environment, future scenarios in rare earth markets, and possible policy recommendations.
Our activities include both rigorous academic researc and aggressive outreach effort. We envision an ambitious research agenda that will use a diverse array of approaches, including economic and market data analysis, field and case studies with investigations of mining supply possibilities, and international political economy analysis to this important area.