#TMS2013: From Graphene to Beryllium and Vanadium, Critical Materials and the Future
The Future Technology and its impact on demand for critical metals panel at #TMS2013 entitled: “Satisfying Future Technology’s Demand for Critical Materials: from the graphene patent surge (medical to nanotechnology) to beryllium and nuclear energy”, will address the wider outlook for current technological and scientific developments are slated to shape the future and the materials that will make such a ‘future’ possible.
The rare earths ‘business’ has become ever more complex. The United States, European Union and Japan have become engrossed in a silent but intense confrontation with China, the world’s largest supplier, prompting many questions about supply, reflecting the geopolitical, security and economic importance of rare earth materials, which are used in a growing number of technological applications, green technology and defense alike. The supply risks of rare earths are less related to the natural geophysical distribution of these elements than to the distribution of their sourcing.
China does not have a geological monopoly, but it has been ‘allowed’ to develop a dominant production concentration, which in practical terms amounts to a monopoly. Then there is the global race to bring graphene from the lab to the market. The European Union is funding a 10 year 1 billion Euro research program on graphene; South Korea, and especially its private sector has embarked on an intense graphene commercialization effort while some of the most suitable graphite varieties for conversion to graphene are being explored in eastern Canada. The intensity of this contest can be surmised from the number of research papers and patent applications related to this new material.
One of the distinguished panelists, Dr. Luc Duchesne, has observed that between 2007 and 2012 the number of annual patent filings on graphene with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) has increased from 20 to over 500 annually, while silicon patents have experienced a significant drop. Much of the drive for new technologies and new materials comes from the growing demand for energy, an endeavor that inevitably serves as the catalyst for major technological and societal changes. Nuclear energy, while hotly debated, still offers one of the most practical solutions to future energy needs.
Nuclear energy is low on emissions and efficient but complicated politically because of public perceptions and the dangers associated with radiation. Nevertheless, there are emerging technologies aimed at confronting these risks. One of these involves Beryllium oxide, BeO or sometimes known as beryllia, is a kind of ceramic in powder form extracted at the natural state from beryl and bertrandite that makes it ideal for use in nuclear fuel as a moderator, allowing for better control of energy, lower reactor temperature, and steadier coolant temperature. IBC has been working with Purdue University and Texas A&M University to enhance the safety and efficiency of nuclear fuel through the use of beryllium oxide.
Scott Remborg will be moderating the panel. Scott founded Sympatico, the largest internet service and web portal in Canada, in the early days of Internet, has a broad perspective on revolutionary technologies and their impact. Scott holds an MBA and is an independent consultant in Information Technology and eCommerce and has served in senior management and advisory positions at Air Canada, Reuters and I.P. Sharp Associates. Scott is sure to lead an exciting and informative discussion thanks to his ability to ask the right questions, given his broad perspective.
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Chris Berry, President and Founder of House Mountain Partners, will combine his understanding of geopolitics and financial issues that will illustrate why critical materials are ‘critical’. Chris is also an expert at identifying the risks and opportunities stemming from geopolitical risks and opportunities in the fields of commodities, junior mining and resource stocks.
Dr. Luc Duchesne, a frequent contributor to ProEdgeWire, professor (PhD) in Biochemistry and published author with three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published 85 scientific papers, book chapters and books. Luc offers unique perspectives on critical minerals and their role in the evolution of science and technology. He has a special talent at translating complex technical information for the wider audience, which helps him capture and express their strong impact. Luc has recently published his first fictional novel, dealing with gold mineral resource exploitation in the US Midwest.
Anthony Dutton, CEO, President and Director of IBC Advanced Alloys Corp. (TSXV: IB | OTCQX: IAALF). Anthony will help to illustrate the unique properties of beryllium as one of the critical materials of the future, highlighting its diverse applications in the hi-tech, aerospace, oil and gas industries and in nuclear energy. IBC is a leading supplier of specialty materials and rare metal alloys for the global market; one of only a few companies generating revenues in the rare earth industry.
Aubrey Eveleigh, P.Geo, President and CEO of Zenyatta Ventures (TSXV: ZEN). Zenyatta has one of the most exciting flake graphite finds in the world, having achieved a purity level of 99.96% an astonishing result that rivals directly with the more expensive synthetic variety of graphite. Such purity levels make Zenyatta an ideal candidate to produce the variety of graphite best suited for the production of graphene.
Bill Radvak, BASc, President, CEO and Director of American Vanadium Corp. (TSXV: AVC). As a developer of North America’s only vanadium mine at the Gibellini vanadium-mining project in Nevada. Bill will illustrate the important role that vanadium electrolyte plays in energy storage. The concept driving the vanadium technology is its ability to act as the sole electroactive element in a battery (at least two are needed normally). This gives it great potential as an energy storage facilitator in accordance to the size of the storage tank. China has launched the vanadium and energy storage challenge, which will vastly improve the viability of solar and wind power systems.
The discussion will touch on rare earths as one of the key ingredients for what is slated to be third industrial revolution. However, the panel will also discuss graphite and its graphene derivative, which has been the object of attention and research in academic and corporate laboratories around the world. Graphene is slated to launch a technological wave the likes of which has not been seen since silicon facilitated the development of information technology some 50 years ago. Silicon has reached maturity and the next big thing on the horizon is one of the big questions on the scientific agenda. It is also on a geopolitical agenda as the new technologies and materials have launched a global contest for resources.