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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Copper’s Anti-Microbial Properties Strike Again: Another Possible Breakthrough in the Fight to Stop Coronavirus Surface Transmission

    The ongoing coronavirus pandemic may derailed public life as we know it, but it has not slowed the pace at which the materials science revolution is yielding research breakthroughs.

    Whether it’s the development of vaccines, rapid tests, new treatment methods or novel materials for personal protective equipment (PPE) at neck-breaking speeds – we’re seeing innovation unfold in front of our very eyes as materials science provides platform technologies and tools for virus research.”

    And while vaccines continue to dominate the positive news cycle on the COVID-19 front, we may be one step closer to having another weapon in the arsenal to fight this and future viruses:

    Corning Inc., a materials science innovator and leader in specialty glass and ceramics manufacturing, has partnered with Pittsburgh, PA-based PPG, which supplies paints, coatings, and specialty materials to develop a new paint that reportedly kills 99.9% of COVID-19 on surfaces. While this will not stop airborne transmission of the virus, the antimicrobial and antiviral properties of the mineral-based paint should help reduce transmission via high-touch surfaces in places like schools and hospitals.

    Not surprisingly for followers of ARPN, Corning Guardiant, which is used in the the paints and coatings for which Corning and PPE are currently seeking EPA registration, contains copper. Copper’s antimicrobial properties, especially when applied to surfaces, have been well documented and regularly discussed on our blog.

    Congressman Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional district, whom followers of ARPN will know as the co-chair of the recently-launched bi-partisan Critical Materials Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives (co-chaired with Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-CA) has lauded the development as a potential breakthrough, stating: “If we’re worried about transmitting viruses and bacteria through surfaces, if we can coat that surface with a coating that’s antimicrobial, then it will by definition kill the bacteria and stop the spread.” He added: “This can make a big difference when we have many antimicrobial, antiviral coatings that we would use in paints.”

    With materials science transforming the way we use metals and minerals at lightning speed, and with supply chain pressures looming large, the importance of the Critical Materials Caucus is only set to increase in the coming months, as it can become an important champion of potentially life-changing innovations like the one referenced above.

    Learn more about the COVID-fighting paints and coatings here.

    And learn more about the Critical Materials Caucus here and here.

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  • Silver Linings: Materials Science Revolution Marches On Amid Pandemic

    The coronavirus pandemic may have torn through communities, brought public life to a halt, thrown markets into turmoil, and laid bare the extent of our complex and deep critical mineral resource dependencies. It has not  — thankfully, considering the materials challenges we’re up against — stopped the ongoing materials science revolution.

    As policy makers and industry stakeholders look to address our mineral resource supply chain vulnerabilities during and beyond the pandemic, researchers are forging ahead to provide innovative solutions that not only transform the way we use certain metals and minerals, but have the potential help alleviate our over-reliance issues. 

    We have outlined several promising research breakthroughs and projects as part of our Materials Science Profiles of Progress series here

    In the same vein, the Department of Energy has stepped up its efforts to promote collaboration between its research hubs and the private sector to look for ways to diversify mineral resource supply, develop substitutes and drive recycling of critical minerals and rare earth elements. 

    In a recent piece for Real Clear Energy, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouilette outlines some of the initiatives spearheaded by DoE and its research hubs, ranging from “identifying and extracting critical minerals and REEs from previously untapped sources such as our vast coal reserves,” over capturing lithium from waste product generated by geothermal power production to developing “high-performance magnets used in renewable energy technologies and advanced motors with reduced REE content.”

    With regards to critical materials and REE recycling, Brouilette cites two promising developments:

    “The first involves using a high-speed shredder that turns old computer hard drives into scrap containing significant amounts of REE content. Our scientists apply an acid-free recycling process to the scrap that recovers REEs with greater than 99-percent purity, reducing the steps involved in the previous process and lowering recycling costs.

    The second involves recovering nickel, cobalt, and manganese from disassembled electric vehicle battery packs. A recent American Manganese Inc. project, on which DOE partnered, generated recycled products with purities greater than 98-percent of the 3 critical minerals.”

    In a time when keeping up with the headlines is anxiety-inducing for many, it is nice to see that some positive developments are on the horizon.  They may seem wonky, but their importance should not be underestimated, because, as Brouilette concludes in his Real Clear Energy piece: 

    “Our over-reliance on countries like China that are not reliable trading partners for critical supply chains threatens our economic and national security. We must reclaim our independence over critical mineral and rare earth element supplies to secure a prosperous future.”

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  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: REE Extraction and Separation From Phosphoric Acid

    The tech war between China and the United States over who will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age is heating up. Earlier this week, China’s rare earth producers, who control the vast majority of global REE output, put out a statement declaring they are ready to “use their dominance of the industry as a weapon in [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • “Consumption” Missing Element in Discussion over Mineral Resource Development

    You need “stuff” to make “stuff.”  It’s a simple concept, but one that is all too often forgotten. As ARPN’s Dan McGroarty wrote in a 2015 Forbes op-ed coauthored with then-CEO of mining advisory firm Behre Dolbear Karr McCurdy: “[A]s a precursor to sound policy, the nation needs a change in mind-set: It’s time to [...]
  • Video: CMI Founding Director Reflects on Five Years of Critical Materials Research

    Video clips are a great way to ease back into the work week after a holiday.  And thankfully, the Critical Materials Institute, a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, has got you covered. As we recently shared, CMI Founding Director Dr. Alex King has stepped down from the post he [...]
  • Passing the Torch – Change in Leadership at Critical Materials Institute (CMI)

    There’s a lot going on in the realm of critical minerals these days – and that does not only apply to policy, but also personnel changes. After five years of building and leading the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, its Director Dr. Alex King [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Announces New Partnership to Recover REEs from E-Waste

    A new year, a new installment of our Materials Science Profiles of Progress series: The Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory has announced a new collaboration entered into by one of its industry associates to recover Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from electronic waste.  Momentum [...]
  • 2017 – a Year of Mixed Signals: No Grand Strategy – But Some Signs We May Be Digging Out of Our Resource Dependency

    Amidst the chaos of Christmas shopping, holiday parties and travel arrangements, the end of the year is customarily the time to take stock of the last twelve months and assess where to go from here. Here is our recap of 2017: On the heels of a year that very much presented itself as a mixed [...]
  • “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” – REE Extraction From Coal

    In the fairy tale realm, Rumpelstilskin was able to turn straw into gold. Meanwhile, in the real world, as part of our feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” we’re taking a closer look at a recently-announced research partnership that may not be able to turn straw into gold, but promises to extract precious Rare [...]

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