Most people think of one or more of the following when they hear the word “chromium”: Shiny, shiny chrome The open-source platform underlying Google’s browser Health supplements The “stainless” part of stainless steel Chemistry class These are all common enough (plus the software has nothing to do with the physical element). So why does the
Category: Critical minerals
Cesium (“caesium,” outside the US) is not just a ringtone. Nor is it simply the atom used in ultra-precise clocks that make everything from the Internet to GPS possible, thanks to accurate time stamps. Yes, cesium defines time itself. Although it can be hazardous in some forms, cesium also is extremely useful in a variety
It’s tempting to call beryllium the “Clark Kent” of the periodic table’s group 2 elements: Beryllium is usually found in bertrandite or beryl crystals and minerals. The square-jawed, mild-mannered crystals get the job done but would never be mistaken for one of their glamorous associates, say, emeralds or aquamarines. As a metal, beryllium is dull
When looking at barite crystals like these, it’s hard to believe that this mineral is critical to the US economy and national security because it makes good drilling mud. Don’t worry. Gem-quality samples are very rare and nobody grinds them up. Most barite (barium sulfate, a/k/a BaSO4) is a plain, light-colored, but unusually heavy sedimentary
This element is colorless, tasteless, inexpensive, and deadly–oh, and as a compound it can turn electricity into light (as in LEDs, fiber optics, telecommunication, and laser scanners). That last “Star Trek”-style application is just one of the reasons why this “Murder She Wrote” element is on the 2018 US critical minerals list. What is arsenic?
Look how careful these scientists are with that material! And yet people in the past used it all the time: Ancient Egyptians might have considered antimony strategically important, just as the US does today, but for different reasons. Instead of using it for batteries, flame retardants, synthetic materials, and military purposes, they made eyeliner with
Most residents of the United States think of foil, beverage cans, and recycling when we hear the word “aluminum” (or “aluminium”); then lots of other things come to mind, including vehicles, aircraft, and various items in our homes and offices. Aluminum is even more widespread than we realize. As a metal, it’s also used in
Recently the US government put together a list of the 35 minerals that it considers necessary for the security and economic welfare of the country.
This element was named after a Norse goddess of beauty because it comes in many colors, which chemists enjoy playing with: Hard to believe vanadium is also a critical mineral used in metal alloys, as well as a possible cancer drug! This colorful element is found in multivitamin supplements, though there is no US recommended
This element is on the critical mineral list, and not simply because it soothes an upset tummy. But bismuth is also a lot of fun. No, wait! Wait! I want to see more of those colors! Believe it or not, bismuth has even inspired artwork. Featured image: <a href="https://pixabay.com/en/bismuth-bismuth-crystal-tint-metal-626546/" target="_blank"Fill, at Pixabay. Public domain.