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Although chemists technically differentiate Scandium from the other rare earth metals, this element is present in most rare earth or uranium deposits and is only found in a handful of mines worldwide.

Scandium is a metal with a hard and silvery appearance and has a somewhat abundant on the planet, estimated to be the 50th most common element in the earth’s crust. However, it is sparsely dispersed and is found mostly in trace amounts, except in regions of Scandinavia (from which it gets its name) and Madagascar where large concentrations can be found.

Scandium can be added to aluminum, creating an alloy that increases the strength of the metal in heat-affected zones, such as around welds. Applications of this alloy are found in some aerospace components Scandium alloys were used in Russian MiG 21 and MiG 29 aircraft), as well as consumer products like baseball bats, lacrosse sticks and bicycle frames. Scandium is also used in some hand guns (revolvers), while some molecules containing the element are used in high-intensity discharge lamps and light bulbs.

Photo: Heinrich Pniok