Siemens AG has selected Molycorp to supply rare earth materials over the next 10 years from its Mountain Pass, Calif.-based facility for incorporation into Siemens' direct-drive wind turbine generators.
Molycorp will supply rare earth materials to Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., which will produce the rare earth magnets Siemens intends to utilize in its wind turbines.
Siemens notes that key factors in choosing Molycorp were Molycorp's ability to provide greater global diversification and reliability to its supply chain, as well as the environmental and process innovations Molycorp has built into its Mountain Pass rare earth facility. Among those are the facility's ability to recycle water, regenerate the chemical reagents needed in rare earth production, generate power from a high-efficiency natural gas cogeneration power plant and dispose of mine tailings through an innovative paste tailings system.
Siemens says that the magnets to be used in its direct-drive wind turbines will contain reduced levels of heavy rare earth elements (HREEs), such as dysprosium. In collaboration with Siemens Wind Power, Molycorp and Shin-Etsu will improve the magnet material to reach zero HREEs, Siemens says. At the same time, Siemens adds, supply chain reliability will be increased and costs will be reduced.
‘The contract with Shin-Etsu and Molycorp is an important step for us in sourcing magnet materials for our direc-drive wind turbines,’ explains Morten Rasmussen, head of technology at Siemens' wind power and renewables division. ‘We strive for diversification in the sourcing of these components to improve independency from specific markets.’