Skip to comments.Prepare to lose metals, says UN group
Posted on 05/26/2010 12:48:24 AM PDT by neverdem
Supplies of speciality metals like lithium, neodymium and indium could become restricted unless recycling rates improve. That's the message from the first two of six reports prepared to assess metal supply sustainability for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
'Scientists should anticipate the possibility that they may not have the whole periodic table to work with in future,' says Thomas Graedel, who led the Global Metal Flows Working Group that compiled the studies.
The report series won't deliver overall supply and demand projections until nearer to the 2012 Rio Earth Summit. Nevertheless Graedel, who is also director of Yale University's Center for Industrial Ecology in the US, thinks recycling will be pivotal if metal supplies are shown to be limited. 'Except for the major base metals and a couple of the most valuable metals, rates of recycling for almost all metals in the periodic table are low,' he notes. 'That means that they will be used one time and discarded, and that's a non-sustainable approach.'
One of the key obstacles to determining metal availability is that only around a third of metals have any estimates for quantities already extracted and in use. Of these, only five have been robustly quantified
Graedel recommends redesigning products as an interim option for tackling these challenges. Mobile phones and computers can use as many as forty elements in milligram to gram amounts, he explains. 'We use a lot of material in highly complex structures,' he says. 'We are making it difficult for recycling to deal with, and product designers and materials scientists are not giving this any thought as they roll their designs out.'
The UNEP identifies indium as an example where demand is provisionally predicted to grow strongly, with the 1,200 tonnes needed in 2010 increasing to 2,600 tonnes by 2020. Used in producing light emitting diodes and transparent electrodes for flat screen displays, the UNEP says that under one per cent of indium demand is currently recycled. Claire Mikolajczak, director of metals and chemicals at materials supplier Indium Corporation, concedes that flat screens aren't being recycled, but argues that 65 per cent of indium supply currently comes from recycling 'spent' indium material used in manufacturing. 'This recycling ratio will stay constant or improve, so virgin production will need to be increased, but not by such high numbers,' she says.
Sorry you UN bunch of socialist dictators we are going to have to cut your allowance to 25 cents a week.
From the same gang which brought us “Global Warming”
They try really hard don’t they?
>> ‘Scientists should anticipate the possibility that they may not have the whole periodic table to work with in future,’ says Thomas Graedel
Is it just me, or does it sound like ol’ Thomas is making a threat?
That's a raise in some of their home countrys.
True but it wouldnt buy them a glass of water in New York
A replay of Julian Simon vs Paul Ehrlich...:
Must be Obama's faultTM, since he took over GM, right? /sarc>
...and you thought they just made cars!
Nuke the UN
Let me know when I can order one. I’ll wear it on alternate days with my NRA shirt.
Of course, it wouldn't have anything to do with her husband's investments in Chinese rare earth mineral development.
My favorite particle is the Par-Mesan.............
Sounds like they’re expecting to ban mining operations just keep recycling what we’ve already got.
I kind of like “UNmake it”
thousands of tonnes of raw material are stranded in port due to traces of GM crops
Now hold on people, this really is serious. Rare earth metals are called that for a reason: They are rare. Some of these metals come only from a handfull of mines. There are no other known sources in the entire world. Understand?
We are rapidly depleting the entire world’s supply of several of these metals. The next generation of integrated circuits is going to be based on a rare earth metal (forgot which one) that will run out in 5 years or less.
Poopooing recycling and the United Nations isn’t going to produce any more tantalum. We do need to recycle what we have. However, the problem is that such a tiny amount of these rare earth metals are used in an individual product like a cell phone that it isn’t profitable or even possible to recycle.
China’s industrial demands are sucking up the majority of the supply of rare earth metals. Their demand is sucking up the supply of metals in general. They have already bought most of the US’s steel production for the near future.
The inevitable complete depletion of some of the rare earth in the next 5 years will cause us to take a step backward in some technologies as we are forced to used less exotic materials.
Mine the landfills. Lots of good stuff in there.
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