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What Is Scandium And Where Do I Use It?

  • Scandium (Chemical symbol Sc and atomic number 21) is a silver-white light transitional metal. It is classified as a rare-earth element.

  • Its main properties are its light weight, high melting point and small ionic radius. Scandium is only the 50th most common element on Earth, but it is the 23rd most common element in the Sun.

  • Due to the small size of its ions, it does not selectively combine with common ore-forming anions and rarely forms concentrations higher than 100 ppm in nature.

  • Scandium is mainly used, at grades of 0.1 to 0.5%, in aluminum alloys for aerospace and sports applications, including bicycle frames, tennis rackets and baseball bats.

  • The main reason to add scandium is that it adds strengths like no other element to lightweight aluminium alloys. More precisely, due to its fine grain refinement, scandium alloys reduce hot cracking in welds, increase strength in the welds and deliver better fatigue behaviour.

  • It is also used in halogen lamps in the scandium iodide form in order to obtain a light close to that of natural sunlight.

  • Scandium has two very important potential end-uses, notably in Europe: Solid Oxide Fuel Cells for energy storage and Sc-Al alloys in aerospace and automotive sectors.


Where is Scandium Produced?

  • The only known sources of concentrated scandium are thortveite, euxenite and gadolinite ores, which are found in small quantities in Scandinavia. There are no scandium mines. Primary production is metallurgical.

  • Production is concentrated in China, followed by Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.


How much does it cost?

  • Scandium is not traded on any metals exchange as scandium products are sold between private parties at undisclosed prices.

  • Price for pure scandium fluctuates between $4,000 and $20,000 per kilogram.


Specific Issues for Scandium

  • There is no production in the EU and few players along the value chain. Therefore, EU import reliance is 100%.

  • Due to its limited use, there is no recycling circuit for scandium in end-of-life products nor at the stage of new scrap.

  • The absence of reliable, secure, stable, long-term production has limited the commercial applications of scandium. In most of its applications, the use of scandium is a way to innovate and enhance performances and properties of already existing end-products.

  • There are no environmental nor regulatory issues concerning scandium.



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