Keith Veronese – Rare: The High-Stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on Earth (1)

rare   – Highlight Loc. 77-79 : To put the amount of platinum on Earth in an easier-to-visualize light, imagine if one took all the platinum mined in the past several decades and melted it down; the amount of molten platinum would barely fill the average home swimming pool.
– Highlight Loc. 81-82 : Osmium, rhenium, iridium, ruthenium, and even gold exist in smaller quantities, much less than one part per billion, while some are available in such small concentrations that no valid measurement exists.
– Highlight Loc. 82-87 : On the extreme end of the scarcity spectrum is the metal promethium. The metal is named for the Greek Titan Prometheus, a mythological trickster who is known for stealing fire from the gods. Scientists first isolated promethium in 1963 after decades of speculation about the metal. Promethium is one of the rarest elements on Earth and would be very useful if available in substantial amounts. If enough existed on the planet, promethium could be used to power atomic batteries that would continue to work for decades at a time. Estimates suggest there is just over a pound of promethium (the most recent estimates suggest five hundred and eighty-six grams) within the crust of the entire planet.
– Highlight Loc. 95-97 : A number of the rare but extremely useful metals we will be talking about are siderophiles. Siderophile is an odd word, meaning „œiron loving” and like metallon, it is of Greek origin. Osmium, gold, palladium, and platinum are four of the twelve metals classified by scientists as siderophiles: elements that seek out iron and bond with this common metal.
– Highlight Loc. 151-54 : In 1886, a chemist in his early twenties ended a five-year academic journey when he discovered a simple but unique process to separate aluminum from ore impurities using electricity. Charles Martin Hall, a professor at Oberlin College, would continue a career as an educator and spend several years teaching in Imperial Japan, but along the way he formed an aluminum-processing company to make use of his newfound process. In time, the company became the industrial giant Alcoa, with Hall serving as vice president.
– Highlight Loc. 178-81 : An extremely recent and highly relevant example of a little-known metal that jumped to the forefront of demand is tantalum. Tantalum is in almost every smartphone, with a sliver in each of the nearly one billion smartphones sold worldwide each year. Prior to this valuable alternative use, tantalum’s only major use was as a conducting filament in turn-of-the-twentieth-century lightbulbs, with the metal quickly replaced by tungsten.
– Highlight Loc. 181-82 : Europium is used to create the color red in liquid-crystal televisions and monitors, with no other chemical able to reproduce the color reliably.

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