Which resource is the scarcest in the world?


There are between 60 and 64 elements used to make a mobile phone, including copper, aluminum, iron and rare earth elements. Some elements only require 1 mg or less, but they are essential for mobile phones. Important and essential.

People will inevitably have such worries: Will the mineral resources on which modern society depends one day be exhausted? Which resource will be exhausted first? Scientists believe that resources will not be exhausted. But this is not necessarily good news, because although resources will not be exhausted, the supply situation of raw materials in the near future is deeply worrying.

No resource will ever be "exhausted"

Scientists understand resource "exhaustion" this way: First, it is almost impossible to prove that a resource has been exhausted, because we do not know every inch of the earth; secondly, when it is close to "exhaustion" “At this point, the price of the remaining resources will soar rapidly, forcing people to turn to other alternatives. For example, after the mining of cryolite (used in the aluminum industry) stalled in the 1980s because the remaining reserves were too small to be valuable, synthetic alternatives replaced cryolite.

Historically, if an element became depleted, people looked for alternatives with comparable performance. Unfortunately, good replacements are hard to find. In a recent study, Thomas Gradel, director of Yale University's Center for Industrial Ecology, and colleagues sought to find the best substitutes for 62 metals. Among these metals, 12 have no substitutes for their primary use. Among the 62 kinds of metals, not a single substitute can be found that can meet all uses. When inferior substitute materials are used, computers will slow down and engines will become less efficient.

The scarcest element on Earth

Studies have pointed out that rhodium is the scarcest element on the earth in terms of its proportion in the earth's crust and its importance to human society, followed by gold, platinum and tellurium.

Rhodium - Rhodium belongs to the platinum group metals (the platinum group metals also include platinum, palladium, iridium, osmium, and ruthenium). The platinum group metals, like gold and silver, are rare and precious metals, and their content on the earth is very small. Platinum group metals are widely used in petroleum, automobiles, electronics, chemicals, atomic energy and environmental protection industries. They are not used in large amounts in these industries, but they play a key role, so they are called "industrial vitamins". Among them, rhodium is even rarer among the platinum group metals. Its main use is as a vehicle exhaust purification catalyst, which can reduce the emission of harmful substances from vehicles. As automobile production increases and environmental standards become increasingly stringent, the demand for rhodium from the automobile industry will continue to increase in the future.

Tellurium - Tellurium is a rare element whose content in the earth's crust is similar to that of gold. It is also the least abundant semiconductor element in the earth's crust. More than half of tellurium consumption is used in the metallurgical industry to improve the properties of steel. Tellurium compounds are also the main raw materials for manufacturing solar thin film cells. In the next few decades, tellurium will become one of the most important strategic resources.

Bismuth - Bismuth is recognized as a safe and non-toxic "green metal" and is widely used in medicine, semiconductors, superconductors, electronic ceramics and other fields. Due to its green properties, bismuth is expected to replace the use of toxic metal lead in many areas. However, despite the growing demand for bismuth, bismuth production has been declining due to resource constraints.

Indium - Indium is a scarce strategic metal. Its distribution in the earth's crust is not only small but also extremely dispersed. It only exists as an impurity in zinc and some other metal ores. The demand for indium dominates in the screens of LCD monitors, tablets, and smartphones. In addition, it also has extremely important strategic value in the fields of solar cells, electronic information, national defense and military, aerospace and aviation, and nuclear industry.

Antimony - Antimony is a rare small metal with my country's reserves and output ranking first in the world. Its main consumption areas are in the fields of flame retardants, lead-acid batteries, catalysts and glass industry. With one-third of the world's reserves, China is responsible for more than 90% of the world's antimony supply.

Tungsten - Tungsten is the hardest metal in the world and is irreplaceable in industrial drill bits, cutting tools and other fields, so it is called the "industrial tooth". Tungsten, together with antimony, tin and rare earths, is known as China's four strategic resources.

Gallium - As a new generation of semiconductor material, gallium is known as the "backbone of the electronics industry" and is widely used in smartphones, LED lights, solar power generation, military, medical and other fields.

Cobalt - Cobalt is known as "industrial monosodium glutamate" and is one of the very scarce strategic resources. Most of the cobalt is used in the cathode material of lithium-ion batteries. Each mobile phone battery contains about 6.6 grams of cobalt, and each new energy vehicle requires more than 10 kilograms of cobalt. It can be seen that the demand for cobalt will show explosive growth in the future.

Rare earth elements Rare earth elements are the general name for a total of 17 metal elements including scandium, yttrium and lanthanide series elements. Rare earth elements are widely used in various fields such as national defense industry, metallurgy, machinery, petroleum, chemical industry, glass, ceramics, textiles, leather, agriculture, animal husbandry and breeding. For example, in steel and non-ferrous metals, as long as a very small amount of rare earth elements is added, it can be significantly improved. Various properties of metal materials.