-->
American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Advances in Metals and Minerals Research May Yield Breakthrough in Quest for Fusion Power

    “Thousands of years ago, humans discovered they could heat rocks to get metal, and it defined an epoch. Later, we refined iron into steel, and it changed the course of civilization. More recently, we turned petroleum into plastic, with all that implies. Whenever we create new materials that push the limits of what’s possible, we send the world down an entirely new path.

    Today, we’re on the verge of a revolution in materials science that will transform the world yet again. Scientists have developed tools that make it possible to design, build, and shape new ‘super materials’ that will eclipse what we once believed were physical limits, create previously unimaginable opportunities, and expand the capabilities of what we already think of as exponential technologies in ways limited only by our imaginations.”

    A few years ago, this is how a Forbes commentator characterized the materials science revolution that is transforming the way we look at metals and minerals.

    It is indeed a revolution, and we’re right in the middle of it. 

    The latest case in point – and feature in our Materials Science Profiles of Progress series – comes to us via the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which has entered into a research partnership with newly-founded company Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) to develop a new generation experiments and ultimately power plants based on fusion power – which is hailed as a “potentially an inexhaustible and zero-carbon source of energy.”

    The collaborative project has already attracted funding from an Italian energy company and is looking for additional investors. 

    Explains David Chandler, writing for the MIT News Office:

    “Fusion, the process that powers the sun and stars, involves light elements, such as hydrogen, smashing together to form heavier elements, such as helium — releasing prodigious amounts of energy in the process. This process produces net energy only at extreme temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees Celsius, too hot for any solid material to withstand. To get around that, fusion researchers use magnetic fields to hold in place the hot plasma — a kind of gaseous soup of subatomic particles — keeping it from coming into contact with any part of the donut-shaped chamber.

    The new effort aims to build a compact device capable of generating 100 million watts, or 100 megawatts (MW), of fusion power. This device will, if all goes according to plan, demonstrate key technical milestones needed to ultimately achieve a full-scale prototype of a fusion power plant that could set the world on a path to low-carbon energy. If widely disseminated, such fusion power plants could meet a substantial fraction of the world’s growing energy needs while drastically curbing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global climate change.”

    MIT and CFS researchers will seek to develop superconducting electromagnets using magnets made from a newly available superconducting material — a steel tape coated with a compound called yttrium-barium-copper oxide (YBCO) within three years, followed by a design and construction phase for a compact and powerful fusion experiment, called SPARC.

    According to MIT, the project seeks to run concurrently to and complement the findings of an international research collaboration currently underway at the world’s largest fusion experiment site in southern France, called ITER. 

    Researchers are optimistic that a breakthrough is within reach. As Martin Greenwald, deputy director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center says: 

    “Our strategy is to use conservative physics, based on decades of work at MIT and elsewhere. (…) If SPARC does achieve its expected performance, my sense is that’s sort of a Kitty Hawk moment for fusion, by robustly demonstrating net power, in a device that scales to a real power plant.”

    If and when that “Kitty Hawk moment” comes for fusion, yttrium, barium and copper will be key – just as, fun fact, that 1903 Wright Brothers motor was made of copper-aluminum alloy 

    Other Materials Science Profiles of Progress:
    REE Extraction From Coal
    CMI Public-Private Partnership Studies New Ways to Capture Gateway Metals and Critical Co-Products

    Researchers Turn to Bioengineered Bacteria to Recover REEs

    CMI Announces New Partnership to Recover REEs from E-Waste

    CMI Expands Collaborative Research Focus to Include Lithium and Cobalt
    DoE’s New Research Center on Lithium Battery Recycling to Leverage Resources of Private Sector, Universities and National Laboratories

    Share
  • Today: Three Members of ARPN Expert Panel to Discuss Battery Tech Materials and Supply Chains at Miller Thomson’s PDAC 2019

    Bearing testimony of the immense importance of the issue of battery tech materials and their supply chains, three members of the ARPN panel of issue experts will be presenting their viewpoints at a seminar hosted by Miller Thomson as part of their PDAC 2019 Series hosted in Toronto, Canada today.

    Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence will provide the keynote address on “Battery Materials – The Importance of Understanding the Supply Chain.” ARPN followers will be familiar with Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s work, which we have frequently featured on our blog, including Mr. Moores’s most recent testimony before a U.S. Senate Committee.

    Dr. Gareth Hatch, CEO and Chairman of Innovation Metals Corp. and Chris Berry, President of Mountain House Partners, LLC, both of whom we have also featured on our site on several occasions over the course of the last few years.

    Here are the coordinates for the seminar:

    Date: Monday, March 4th
    Time: 1:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Registration opens at 1:00 p.m.)
    Location: Miller Thomson LLP, 40 King Street West, Suite 5800, Toronto, ON M5H 3S1

    More details are available here.

    Online registration has closed, but you can still register on-site. Check back on our blog for an update after the event.

    Share
  • “Something Does not Come from Nothing” – Formulation of Mineral Resource Strategy Should be a Precursor to Green Energy Debate

    “Something does not come from nothing. That fact can be easily forgotten when it comes to seemingly abstract concepts like ‘energy,’” writes Angela Chen in a new piece for technology news and media network The Verge. Chen zeroes in on four key metals and minerals that have become indispensable components of green energy technology – Neodymium, [...]
  • McGroarty Warns of Real World Problem for 21st Century American Warrior

    In a new commentary for Investor’s Business Daily, ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty warns of “America’s unilateral disarmament in the resource wars.”  Invoking the world of Marvel comics, in which Vibranium is the imaginary metal used for Captain America’s shield, IronMan’s exoskeleton, and Black Panther’s energy-absorbing suit, McGroarty argues that the 21st Century American warrior (perhaps [...]
  • U.S. Currently Bystander in Global Battery Arms Race, ARPN Expert Tells U.S. Senate Committee

    A key global player, the United States is not used to being a bystander. Yet this is exactly what is currently happening, says Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s Managing Director Simon Moores, addressing the full U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources this morning. Delivering his testimony on the outlook for energy and minerals market in [...]
  • U.S. Senate to Hold Hearing on Energy and Mineral Markets, Member of ARPN Expert Panel to Testify

    We’ve called it “the new black.” The Guardian even went as far as ringing in the “Ion Age.”  Bearing testimony to the growing importance of battery technology, the U.S. Senate will hold a hearing examining the outlook for energy and minerals markets in the 116th Congress on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 with an emphasis on battery [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: DoE’s New Research Center on Lithium Battery Recycling to Leverage Resources of Private Sector, Universities and National Laboratories

    Speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Energy Innovation Council last week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the launch of a new research center on lithium battery recycling. The Battery Recycling R&D Center will focus on reclaiming and recycling “critical materials (e.g. cobalt and lithium) from lithium based battery technology used in consumer electronics, defense, energy [...]
  • Welcome to the “Ion Age”? The Ongoing Rise of Battery Technology

    Unless you’ve spent the last few years under a rock, you know that battery technology is the new black. With a new detailed “briefing” feature, The Guardian even goes as far as ringing in the “Ion Age” – a play on lithium-ion battery technology, which continues to make headlines. Writers Adam Vaughan and Samuel Gibbs [...]
  • Copper and the 2018 Critical Minerals List – Considerations for Resource Policy Reform

    While we’re still waiting for policy makers and other stakeholders to take further action, in 2018 an important step was taken to set the stage for mineral resource policy reform with the release of the Department of Interior’s List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy. Throughout the drafting stage [...]
  • 2018 – A Year of Incremental Progress?

    In case you hadn’t noticed amidst holiday preparations, travel arrangements and the usual chaos of everyday life – 2019 is just around the corner, and with that, the time to reflect on the past twelve months has arrived. So here is ARPN’s recap of 2018: Where we began. Unlike previous years, we started 2018 with [...]

Archives