Engaging Endangered Elements

 

So you think you know the periodic table of elements?

 

Chemistry Innovation KTN have recently been doing some sterling work to raise awareness of the fact that many elements that we take for granted may be rapidly becoming endangered*.

For the detail, we'd encourage you to have a look at their newly updated website, which includes information such as:

  • Fundamental limits in the availability of some elements - link
  • A coded periodic table showing elements of greatest risk through growing usage, availability and political constraints - link
  • Consideration of products that depend on these elements - link

 

These documents provide excellent food-for-thought whether:

  • you're a teacher enthusing the need for the next generation of scientists/engineers
  • you're considering longer term business strategy for procurement/ end-of-life risks and opportunities
  • you're involved in the specification of materials for new products

 

 

With regard to the latter, Chemistry Innovation KTN haven't just been talking to the science community about the risks - in an excellent demonstration of cross-sector working, Dr Mike Pitts has managed to get a version of the Endangered Elements Periodic Table into a new exhibition at the Design Museum in London. Well done Mike!

For more information on the Design Museum: Sustainable Futures exhibition see their website here (it's running until 5th September):

http://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/2010/sustainable-futures

 

So even if this doesn't change the way you do business today, hopefully it's food for thought on risks and opportunities for the near and longer term future, for we may soon be asking questions such as "would we rather have flat screen TVs or solar cells; high powered computers or nuclear power; catalysts or pharmaceuticals...?"

 

Amy

 

 

*the term endangered recognises the fact that most of these elements won't be lost from this planet, just unavailable for easy use in new products (helium being an exception that passes through the atmosphere into space)