Rare earth elements and rare earth materials are common in a wide variety of products, from cell phones to electric cars and beyond. Thus, REEs and REMs have become a critical component in the economies of many developing countries.
Specifications and test methods are needed to determine if the purchased quality of REEs and REMs meets the specified quality. One such proposed standard is ASTM WK44003, Test Method for Identification and Quantification of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) in Rare Earth Materials (REMs) by X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry, being developed by Subcommittee F40.04 on Rare Earth Materials. F40.04 is under the jurisdiction of ASTM International Committee F40 on Declarable Substances in Materials.
“If you view the whole value chain of REEs, then certain stages definitely require test methods,” said Taco van der Maten, product manager, X-ray fluorescence, PANalytical, and chairman, F40. “Ore refiners need to be able to determine how far they have to refine to be attractive to the market; developers of REMs need to know what composition and quality they buy and what they actually use.”
According to Van der Maten, testing to the proposed standard, once it has been approved, will allow for a quality statement for REEs and REMs so that users to know what they’re buying. In addition, Van der Maten notes, the proposed standard will provide for a more sustainable long-term supply of stable quality REEs.
Van der Maten invites all interested parties to contribute to the development of ASTM WK44003. Quality control managers, manufacturers using REEs, purchasers and policy makers are all welcome. He says that F40.04 is particularly interested in receiving input from recyclers and refiners on labeling REMs for recycling purposes.
ASTM International welcomes participation in the development of its standards. For more information on becoming an ASTM member, visit www.astm.org/JOIN.