A more surprising use of gadolinium is in the nuclear industry where Gadolinium isotopes are mixed with Uranium fuel in reactors to absorb/ capture thermal neutrons, as control rods. Finally Gadolinium is used in alloys of Iron (Fe) and Chromium (Cr) to improve workability and resistance to high temperatures and oxidation. These qualities have possibly given rise to its use in thermal barrier/ ceramic coatings in recent years.
We have experience in the supply of Gadolinium metal and various grades of Gadolinium Oxide. Prices of which vary in relation to the impurity levels present. Gadolinium Oxide (Gd2O3) 99.99% is around $50-100/kg more expensive than lower grades.
Relative Atomic Mass
Gadolinium (atomic number 64) is a member of the lanthanide group of elements, also dubbed ‘rare earths’.
It is further distinguished as a light rare earth, alongside Neodymium, Praseodymium & Europium all of which are of similar value, unlike Cerium and Lanthanum – the less valuable of the light rare earth subgroup. Though Gadolinium is similarly valued in terms of price and use in applications as Neodymium, its abundance is just 5.2ppm in the earth’s crust whilst Neodymium arises at 38ppm.
Gadolinium has a somewhat surprising and varied range of applications in which it is used. Its compounds are used as green phosphors in colour television picture tubes and these days, rare earth phosphors even light up plasma and LCD screens.
In other lighting applications, gadolinium is contained in hollow cathode lamps and in other light sources of atomic absorption.
In another application gadolinium compounds are injected into patients receiving MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans, to improve contrast. This is due to Gadolinium’s magnetic properties, whereby it becomes Ferro-Magnetic at 20°C. This was the first element found with such properties other than Iron (Fe), Nickel (Ni) and Cobalt (Co), and has been found to even become more magnetic than iron in lower temperatures. Gadolinium’s magnetic properties make it perfect for magnetic refrigeration, where it has a strong magnetocalorific effect meaning its temperature increases when it enters a certain magnetic field and vice versa. Magnetic refrigeration is set to overtake existing gas compression refrigeration, and could revolutionise the market for refrigerators/ freezers and air conditioners. And from refrigerators to microwaves – Gadolinium when alloyed with Yttrium for garnet making is used in microwave technology.