Material of the Month: Germanium

Material of the Month: Germanium

Germanium is a hard, brittle semimetal that first came into use a half-century ago as a semiconductor material in radar units and as the material from which the first transistor was made. Today, germanium is mainly used in electronics and solar applications, fiber-optic systems, infrared optics, polymerization catalysts, and other uses (such as chemotherapy, metallurgy, and phosphors). Germanium-containing infrared optics were primarily for military use, but the commercial applications for thermal-imaging devices that use germanium lenses have increased during the past few years. In the earth crust, germanium seldom appears in high concentrations. Due to its highly dispersive nature, it is mostly recovered as a byproduct of zinc smelting, although […]

Material of the Month: Nickel

Material of the Month: Nickel

Nickel is one of the most common elements in the earths’ crust. Therefore, general depletion is not likely, however mining of remaining ores with reduced nickel contents, mines in disperse locations and increasing environmental regulations turn nickel mining more challenging. Due to an expected surge in global electric vehicle sales, the demand for Nickel starts to change its production, even though at present the share of battery materials is just around 3-4% of global mine production. Among all the existing Nickel containing ores, only the sulfide ones are suitable to produce battery grade Nickel. One problem concerning batteries is that the demand of Nickel to produce batteries is comparatively low, […]

Journal article: link between circularity and criticality

Journal article: link between circularity and criticality

The IRTC project, coordinated by ESM Foundation, has published a joint scientific paper by leading international experts on the link of material criticality and transitioning towards a more circular economy. The paper explores the potential benefits, as well as caveats, of adopting a circular economy approach to critical raw materials, based on the experiences and discussions organized by the IRTC project. The IRTC project has now entered its second phase “IRTC-Business”, with the long-term goal to develop guidance for companies concerning their exposure to criticality and suitable mitigation measures.

Material of the Month: Rare Earth Elements

Material of the Month: Rare Earth Elements

Rare Earth Elements (REE) are still considered as one of the most critical elements for industrial use and green technologies. However, it is now well known that the group of 17 individual elements is as diverse as any other 17 elements of the Periodic Table. The pure chemical similarity of the REEs is confronted with an extreme physical diversity. Today basically only the magnetic materials are of interest and drivers for the REE market. Phosphors like Europium and Yttrium, which were the most critical REEs just a few years ago, are still required but the paradigm change by introducing LED technology led to a enormous reduction of demand for phosphors. The […]

Material of the month: Graphite

Material of the month: Graphite

Graphite: soon the new black gold?   Graphite is a soft, crystalline form of Carbon. Natural Graphite occurs in metamorphic rocks such as marble, schist, and gneiss. At present, graphite is the anode material of choice in batteries. It naturally occurs in three different variations: amorphous Graphite, flake or crystalline Graphite and vein or lump Graphite. it can also be produced synthetically. Battery grade material presently can only be produced from flake, vein and synthetic Graphite and the required purity for battery applications is at least 99,9%. In China, a rather low-cost process is being used which is disastrous for environment, workplace health and safety. Increasing demand for EVs however […]