Graphene is expected to replace 13 rare metals.
Although rare metals exist in various daily necessities around us, the extraction of rare metal elements is complex, difficult to recycle and very rare, so it is easy to evolve into "conflict minerals", causing conflicts and squeezing among countries. The latest research at the Chalmers University Technology shows that carbon nanomaterials can be used to replace many metal materials, such as graphene, on the technical level.
Rare metals can be found in the computers, mobile phones, almost all electronic devices and many plastic products around us. Society is highly dependent on rare metals, but there are many shortcomings in this dependence.
Rare metals, such as tin, silver, tungsten and indium, are scarce. Because the feasibility of extraction is very small, it is difficult to extract, which makes rare metals highly concerned. In addition, these rare metals have also triggered a lot of conflict, for example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, rare metals have become a source of capital for armed conflict.
In addition, because of the rare metal content in the electronic products such as the rare metals, it is difficult to be recycled.
Analysis Center researchers RickardArvidsson Bj and rnSand n, have found a solution of Chalmers University of Technology environment system: replace rare metal with carbon nano materials. The most famous of these materials is graphene, because it has good electrical conductivity like rare metals.
"The development of technology now enables us to make better use of carbon." Sand n said, "now there are many new carbon nano materials with properties similar to metal, this is a very promising field, from now on investment recovery and substitution of rare metals is also very important."
Researchers at Chalmers University Technology studied the main applications of 14 different metals, and searched for patents and scientific literature to study the possibility of using carbon nanomaterials as alternatives. The results of this study provide a very important reference value for the research and technology development in this field.
According to the overview of Arvidsson and Sand n that are used to change the use of rare metals from carbon nano materials.
"In the most common applications of carbon nanomaterials, carbon nanomaterials can replace 13 of the 14 metals. The development of technology is at different stages, and different metals have different applications. For example, indium and gallium, the results show that in some cases the two metals are very promising. " Arvidsson said.
"This brings us hope." Sand n said, "in the limited resources, recycling economy and social material handling in the debate, people always pay attention to recycling and reuse. Substitution is happening quietly, but people's concern for this area is not high. As resource problems become more urgent, we now have more tools available.
The results of the study were recently published in the journal clean production. Arvidsson and Sand n that reduce the use of rare metals have the great advantage, and they hope to conduct more research and development in this field.
"Imagine if you could replace rare metals with carbon materials." Sand n said. "Then the carbon elements extracted from biomass will create a new natural cycle."
Because carbon is a common and readily available raw material, it may also reduce the conflicts and regional political problems triggered by rare metals, Arvidsson said.
At the same time, they pointed out that if other materials are used to replace rare metals, more research is needed to solve the new problems that may arise in the future.
"Carbon nanomaterials is a relatively new discovery so far. From the perspective of life cycle, there is limited knowledge of the extent of environmental impact of these materials, but it seems to have little potential impact on the environment." Arvidsson said.
Carbon nanomaterials are all or mostly made up of carbon elements and have good conductivity. Several rare metals have similar properties, such as cables, thin screens, flame retardants, anticorrosive containers and rare metals in capacitors.
RickardArvidsson Bj and rnSand n at the Chalmers University Technology, investigating whether the use of nano carbon materials Shi Moxi, fullerenes, carbon nanotubes in the main application fields is to replace the 14 kinds of rare metals. They found potential technological solutions, which use carbon nanomaterials instead of metals. Of course, besides gold in jewelry, the most likely replacement metals are indium, gallium, beryllium and silver.