Two-hundreds years ago, no one had even heard of aluminium. Nowadays, you are always surrounded by it. This is a good demonstration how discovery and ingenuity can help reshape our modern world, and why something that’s just a curiosity today could be the new backbone of civilisation tomorrow. With our betting caps on, we’ve gone and listed 5 of the top recent scientific metal discoveries, and we think you’ll agree that each of them is very worth keeping an eye on.
#1 Muscle protein replaced with non-biological metal
The goal of every honest scientist is to improve our quality of life, and this discovery offers limitless potential on that front. Essentially, chemists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory were successfully able to replace the iron normally found in the muscle protein myoglobin with iridium, a noble metal not known to be used by living systems. This merging of chemistry with biology leaves open the door for pharmaceuticals, fuels, agrochemicals and an array of other products to be made with such reactions.
#2 Eurasian metals traded with North America before the 18th century
We had suspicions from oral history and other archaeological finds that Old World metals had been traded with the American population prior to Columbus’ first voyage, but now we have proof in the form of two leaded bronze artefacts found in northwestern Alaska. It’s believed that the items - a bead and a buckle - were traded to Siberia, and then taken across the Bering Strait to ancestral Inuits, also known as Thule culture. The implication is that there was more technical innovation going on in the Arctic than we would have previously thought.
#3 New material could trap and recycle nuclear fuel
Identified through a combination of experiments and computer modelling, metal-organic frameworks (or MOF’s) may be our next big hope in making nuclear fuel recycling much cleaner and more efficient. The main problem is recycling these materials usually requires conditions that are way below freezing point, which is expensive and requires a lot of energy to maintain. With MOF material, you can achieve the same results at a much more ambient temperature.
#4 High-purity metals recovered from battery waste
Another story on the recycling front: scientists at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) have succeeded in recovering lithium, cobalt and nickel from battery waste with nearly 100 per cent purity. When manufacturing batteries, the purity of the raw materials is hugely important. Furthermore, the need for batteries in producing electronic devices (such as electric cars) will hugely increase in the coming decades - indeed the global demand for Lithium in particular may quadruple by 2025.
#5 ‘Vibranium’ will be used to safely transport passengers at 760 mph
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is a company that wants to create capsules that can transport passengers through a nearly airless tube at breathtaking speed. To achieve this, they’re using a new sensor-embedded carbon fiber known as ‘Vibranium’. Taking its name from the same metal that Captain America’s shield is made out of, this material is supposedly "eight times stronger than aluminum and 10 times stronger than steel alternatives," and when coating the Hyperloop pod, it should provide twice the protection should disaster strike.
The Aluminium Federation has just celebrated its 50th anniversary and as a little celebration, they put together a list of fifty ways aluminium has changed the world for a better. It’s something we take for granted but it has allowed us to develop at a staggering
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Humans have been using iron since around 2000 BC and it served as the most used and utilised metal until steel production became efficient and reliable enough to allow it to become a viable replacement shortly after 1870 AD. But the means by which to develop
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Making up over a fifth of the earth’s crust, Iron is the 4th most common element that can be found in our planet's crust (the most common being oxygen, followed by silicon and then aluminium). Iron is found and mined from a number of rocks which can vary
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