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When materials become critical: lessons from the 2010 rare earth crisis

Promotor: G.J. Kramer Co-Promotor: E.G.M. Kleijn

B. Sprecher
28 June 2016
Thesis in Leiden Repository

This dissertation is the culmination of over four years research on the rare earth element neodymium in the context of the 2010 REE crisis. Neodymium is a generally recognized ‘critical’ material with a relevant application in the form of NdFeB magnets, both for sustainable energy technologies as well as the wider economy. This dissertation answers four main research questions: 1. What are the material flows of neodymium for NdFeB magnets, and how much can be made available for recycling? 2. What are the environmental burdens of NdFeB production, and how does recycling alleviate this burden? 3. What type of mechanisms along the NdFeB supply chain provide resilience in response to supply constraints and disruptions 4. Of all the possible resilience mechanisms, which played the largest role in the aftermath of the 2010 REE crisis? Besides directly answering the research question, this dissertation also reflects on the broader question of how actors in the NdFeB supply chain can change their behavior to limit their exposure to an unforeseen yet inevitable future crisis.

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