In a new paper, a team of Yale researchers assesses the “criticality” of all 62 metals on the Periodic Table of Elements, providing key insights into which materials might become more difficult to find in the coming decades, which ones will exact the highest environmental costs — and which ones simply cannot be replaced as components of vital technologies.
During the past decade, sporadic shortages of metals needed to create a wide range of high-tech products have inspired attempts to quantify the criticality of these materials, defined by the relative importance of the elements’ uses and their global availability.
Many of the metals traditionally used in manufacturing, such as zinc, copper, and aluminum, show no signs of vulnerability. But other metals critical in the production of newer technologies — like smartphones, infrared optics, and medical imaging — may be harder to obtain in coming decades, said Thomas Graedel, the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Industrial Ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and lead author of the paper.
The study — which was based on previous research, industry information, and expert interviews — represents the first peer-reviewed assessment of the criticality of all of the planet’s metals and metalloids.
“The metals we’ve been using for a long time probably won’t present much of a challenge. We’ve been using them for a long time because they’re pretty abundant and they are generally widespread geographically,” Graedel said. “But some metals that have become deployed for technology only in the last 10 or 20 years are available almost entirely as byproducts. You can’t mine specifically for them; they often exist in small quantities and are used for specialty purposes. And they don’t have any decent substitutes.”
These findings illustrate the urgency for new product designs that make it easier to reclaim materials for re-use, Graedel said.
The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, encapsulates the Yale group’s five-year assessment of the criticality of the planet’s metal resources in the face of rising global demand and the increasing complexity of modern products.
According to the researchers, criticality depends not only on geological abundance. Other important factors include the potential for finding effective alternatives in production processes, the degree to which ore deposits are geopolitically concentrated, the state of mining technology, regulatory oversight, geopolitical initiatives, regional instabilities, and economic policies.
In order to assess the state of all metals, researchers developed a methodology that characterizes criticality in three areas: supply risk, environmental implications, and vulnerability to human-imposed supply restrictions.
The Latest on: Metals shortages
via Google News
The Latest on: Metals shortages
- Shortage of skilled tradespeople means job opportunitieson January 27, 2021 at 6:11 am
However, as founder Mike O’Brien sees it, the industry is facing a critical shortage in its most precious commodity – qualified workers. “Our biggest challenge would be attaining quality tradespeople, ...
- Semiconductor shortage: Tiny chips are disrupting a range of manufacturing sectorson January 27, 2021 at 4:00 am
The production of cars, Playstation 5’s or webcams to work from home is the next disrupted supply chain in a long line of disruptions. While separate, these three industries share the same ...
- SMM Morning Comments (Jan 27): Shanghai base metals were mostly higher as IMF raised global economic growth forecaston January 26, 2021 at 5:30 pm
Shanghai base metals were mostly higher on Wednesday morning as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its growth forecast for the global economy this year. Meanwhile, their counterparts on the ...
- Fraunhofer ILT and Cronimet Ferroleg develop laser scrap metal sorteron January 25, 2021 at 10:35 am
The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) and Karlsruhe, Germany-based metal scrap and recycling group Cronimet Ferroleg have together developed a laser-based sorting pr ...
- GOP lawmaker with gun sets off House chamber metal detectoron January 22, 2021 at 8:19 am
WASHINGTON (AP) — Capitol Police are investigating an incident in which a Republican lawmaker was blocked from entering the House chamber after setting off a metal detector while apparently ...
- Pandemic has accelerated, exacerbated labor shortage problem for construction industryon January 20, 2021 at 3:10 pm
The pandemic has created a demand in home projects with many people being home, but not enough skilled workers to get the job done.
- Divide and Conquer, American-Style, the Dollar and Precious Metalson January 19, 2021 at 10:09 am
Sector expert Michael Ballanger explores how fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar and the gold and silver markets have played out over the last week. It was several months ago, in the midst of ...
- METALS-Copper prices steady ahead of Yellen speechon January 19, 2021 at 5:23 am
Copper prices were steady in lacklustre trade on Tuesday as global investors eyed an upcoming speech by U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen that could determine the tone of policy in the ...
- METALS-Copper prices gain as China's solid economic data supportson January 19, 2021 at 12:52 am
Copper advanced on Tuesday, as stronger-than-expected economic data from top consumer China lent support, though rising COVID-19 infections globally weighed on prices and assuaged expectations of a ...
- Tin supply shortage looms as WFH trend increases electronics usageon January 17, 2021 at 11:34 am
Tin is having a roaring time with the metal's cash price sitting at a two-year high and there is evidence the market is facing a supply shortage.
via Bing News