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Manganese, Magnesium and Molybdenum, Strategic Metals Key to Green Technology

Commodities / Metals & Mining May 02, 2010 - 06:15 AM GMT

By: Anthony_David


Although demand for approximately 90% of manganese, 75% of molybdenum and 13% of magnesium is accounted for by the global steel industry, these three strategic metals are becoming highly important to the future of emerging green technologies.

Manganese (Mn)

New applications of manganese are constantly reported. Of particular interest is a new lithium-ion battery that contains a manganese-based cathode. The application has been launched by Japan’s technology company Hitachi Limited and the new battery is expected to double the life of the batteries besides having a higher electrical output. Hitachi has carried out preliminary tests and the product looks promising. It could play a pivotal role in green energy production, both solar and wind, in electric and hybrid automobiles, and in cell phones and laptops.

Another eco-friendly application of manganese is attempting to utilize the ability of manganese dioxide to absorb carbon dioxide. Scientists at Japan’s Kyoto University are working on reproducing the process of photosynthesis and effectively reducing carbon emissions from the atmosphere. The success of the technology could play a critical role in the future of a green earth.

Magnesium (Mg)

Research workers at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and engineers at MagPower in British Columbia are exploring ways of extracting energy from magnesium and utilizing its inherent capacity to store large quantities of energy. The success of such a technology could prove to be a blessing for the renewable energy business. A big hurdle in commercializing the technology is however, the high costs involved in extracting magnesium.

To tackle the issue, Dr. Takashi Yabe of Japan’s Tokyo Institute of Technology is developing a process that uses solar power. To make solar power generation less costly, he is using small Fresnel lenses instead of concentrated solar collectors. Magnesium is extracted from seawater by using solar energy to power a laser that heats and ultimately burns magnesium oxide. Dr. Yabe’s demonstration plant, built in partnership with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, can now extract 80 watts of power, which can in turn extract 70% of magnesium from seawater. He hopes to build a commercial model later this year.

Molybdenum (Mo)

Although Molybdenum has been used for many years to make stainless steel, demand for this type of steel is increasing in the green industry due to it’s requirement in the production of pipes and tanks which hold and transport biofuels, which are corrosive in nature.

Molybdenum is also being utilized prominently in thin-film CIGS solar panels which are expected to be substantially less expensive than traditional solar cells due to their much lower material and potentially lower fabrication costs. Although CIGS solar panels are made of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (hence the acronym ‘CIGS’) a thin layer of molybdenum is used as the effective electrode base upon which the afore-mentioned elements are deposited.

By Anthony David

The mission of the Critical Strategic Metals Web Site

is to serve as a monthly compass for those who take a fundamental view of investment regarding the Molybdenum, Manganese and Magnesium metals markets, are concerned with the emerging critical under-supply of these strategic metals to Western nations and wish to profitability chart their course. Each month we will research and provide, in as short and concise a manner as possible, the most applicable information available on resources that will have the biggest impact on our day to day lives. Click here to sign-up for our FREE monthly report

© 2010 Copyright  Anthony David- All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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