Assessment of supply interruption of rhenium, recycling, processing sources and technologies
Rhenium is a unique, valuable and extremely rare chemical element currently used as an alloying element in high-temperature superalloys for aerospace and industrial gas-fired turbines and also as a catalyst in petrochemical industry. Moving towards a more competitive and sustainable economy requires access to this metal in adequate quantities and at competitive costs. However, minerals containing rhenium are generally found in very small quantities and are currently not commercially viable sources. Thus, the method and route for the extraction of primary rhenium is dependent on other metals (copper, molybdenum and uranium) of which rhenium is a by-product. In addition, focusing on alternative sources such as recycling of rhenium from waste alloy scrap and catalysts, is continually gaining attention in the research community. This paper has focused on the assessment of secondary sources of rhenium. The historical cost and also supply interruption indicators of rhenium were examined and assessed. Finally, opportunities of recovering and reusing existing stocks through Industrial Ecology are discussed.