Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Scandium: A Potential Substitute for Rare Earth Elements like Yttrium

Scandium (Sc) is a soft, silvery, lightweight transitional metal with an atomic number 21. It has been considered as a rare earth component since it has similar chemical properties and present in the same ores. Scandium oxidizes when exposed to air and changes color to tinged pink or yellow due to formation of scandium oxide on the surface. It is a lightweight creep resistant material with excellent electrical conductivity, due to which it is extensively used in various industrial verticals such as LED and laser, battery, electronics, and others. This is expected to boost the overall demand for scandium.

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Electronics to be the Major Application Segment

The electronics segment is anticipated to witness rapid growth as it is a major consumer of scandium metals. Some lasers use GSGG (Gadolinium Scandium Gallium Garnets). In addition, scandium is used in various high performance switches in computers. All these factors are predicted to have a huge impact on the global demand for scandium over the forecast years i.e., from 2017 to 2022.

The LED and laser segment is also estimated to have a substantial growth over the coming years. The key factor responsible for the development of this segment includes the extensive usage of scandium for manufacturing high-intensity lights and bulbs, that imitate natural sun light or day light. The valuable metal has a wide emission spectrum, which is close enough to sunlight and used in television and movie studio lighting and camera lighting systems for greater and natural effects.

Market Overview

As suggested by the findings of a recent report made available by Radiant Insights, Inc.; the worldwide scandium market would develop at a significant annual CAGR of 6.3 % over the forecast period. Extensive usage of scandium in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and rising demand from the automotive and aerospace sectors are projected to augment market growth over the coming years. The leading players in this market include Scandium International Mining Corp.; Guangzhou CNMC (GUANGXI) PGMA Co. Ltd.; Changsha Asian Light Economic Trade Co. Ltd.; and Baotou Lanthanide New Material Technology Co. Ltd. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activities and partnerships are key strategies followed by most of these players.

For instance, Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd. has signed a deal with Chongqing University and Chinalco Materials Application Research Institute (CMRI) for the development of scandium-containing alloys for the global transportation industry. This partnership will bring together various production and research engineers from the Chongqing University, CMRI, and Clean TeQ for developing and commercializing the next generation of advanced scandium alloys for aerospace and automobile sectors.

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