The first member in the Lanthanide series, it is a silvery-white metallic element that is usually found in combination with cerium and other rare earth elements. Lanthanum is relatively abundant, appearing about twice as frequently in the earth’s crust as nitrogen, lead or lithium.
Lanthanum is used in nickel-metal hydride batteries in Hybrid cars, which carry between 20-25 pounds of the element. As engineers devise ways to increase fuel mileage, it is expected that up to twice the amount of lanthanum could be used in each vehicle. Lanthanum is also used in the production of electronic vacuum tubes, camera and telescope lenses, as a steel additive and even in certain medications.