What is Neodymium?

Neodymium is a silvery-white metal that is moderately reactive and quickly oxidises to a yellowish colour in air. The metal is soft and ductile. It has a hexagonal structure, a density of 7.004 gm/cm3, a melting point of 1021 °C, and a boiling point of 3027 °C. Neodymium oxide, or neodymia, occurs as a sesquioxide with the formula Nd2O3. The oxide is a pale white powder with a specific gravity of 7.3 gm/cm3, a melting point of 2233 °C, and a formula weight of 336.48.

Properties

  • Atomic Symbol: Nd
  • Atomic Number: 60
  • Element Category: Lanthanide metal
  • Atomic Weight: 144.242

Applications

It’s used in the following applications

  • Wind turbine generators create electricity using neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets.
  • Neodymium yttrium aluminium garnet (Nd:YAG) lasers are the most widely used lasers in commercial and military applications. They are used for cutting, welding, scribing, boring, ranging, and targeting.
  • Electric motors in hybrid “HEV” and electric vehicles “EV” use high-strength neodymium magnets to power the car.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) using NdFeB can be used to obtain an internal view of the body without radiation.

History

Neodymium was identified as a separate element in 1885 by chemist Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach, who was studying at Heidelberg, when he successfully split the compound didymium into its two components, neodymium and praseodymium. The more abundant new element was termed neodymium, from the Greek neos didumous, meaning new twin.

Uses

  • Neodymium is the critical material for a neodymium-iron-born magnet (Nd2Fe14B), the strongest type of permanent magnet and the most widely used in electric motors in hybrid “HEV” and electric vehicles “EV”, wind turbine generators, high-speed rail, robotics, medical devices, electric motors, hard disk drives, mobile devices, military applications, Internet of Things (IOT) applications and automotive industry components etc.
  • Neodymium yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) lasers are the most widely used in commercial and military applications. They are used for cutting, welding, scribing, boring, ranging, and targeting.

Sources

Neodymium occurs in the Earth’s crust at an average concentration of 28 parts per million.

Neodymium is commonly found in carbonatites in the mineral bastnäsite. Bastnäsite deposits in China and the United States constitute the largest percentage of the world’s rare earth economic resources.

The second largest host of neodymium in economic deposits is the mineral monazite, the main host mineral at Yangibana. Monazite deposits occur in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United States in palaeoplacer and recent placer deposits, sedimentary deposits, veins, pegmatites, carbonatites, and alkaline complexes. Neodymium sourced from the LREE-mineral loparite is recovered from a large alkali igneous intrusion in Russia.

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