Implications of Emerging Vehicle Technologies on Rare Earth Supply and Demand in the United States
by Orlando Rios
We explore the long-term demand and supply potentials of rare earth elements in alternative energy vehicles (AEVs) in the United States until 2050. Using a stock-flow model, we compare a baseline scenario with scenarios that incorporate an exemplary technological innovation: a novel aluminum–cerium–magnesium alloy. We find that the introduction of the novel alloy demonstrates that even low penetration rates can exceed domestic cerium production capacity, illustrating possible consequences of technological innovations to material supply and demand. End-of-life vehicles can, however, overtake domestic mining as a source of materials, calling for proper technologies and policies to utilize this emerging source. The long-term importing of critical materials in manufactured and semi-manufactured products shifts the location of material stocks and hence future secondary supply of high-value materials, culminating in a double benefit to the importing country. This modeling approach is adaptable to the study of varied scenarios and materials, linking technologies with supply and demand dynamics in order to understand their potential economic and environmental consequences.