The periodic table and the road to resource nationalism – by Kurt Breede (Northern Miner/ – February 11, 2020)

This year marked the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, which UNESCO has dubbed the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. Developed in 1869 by Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist and inventor, the periodic table is the foundation on which nearly all modern science is based.

Even in its earliest form, Mendeleev used his newfound creation not only to hypothesize the properties of already identified elements, but also to predict as-yet discovered substances, including those now coveted by today’s modern fuel-cell industry, like germanium (Ge) and gallium (Ga).

To mark the occasion, the European Chemical Society published a periodic table infographic designed to highlight the relative abundance and scarcity of elements based on current and forecast supply and demand.

Elements topping the abundance category include household names like hydrogen (H), oxygen (O) and silica (Si). Those facing threat of depletion in the next century (based on known reserves) consist of lesser known elements like indium (In), tellurium (Te) and others that Mendeleev himself identified a century and a half earlier.

The info graphic underscores the sensitivity of commodity supply to the tech industry’s burgeoning demands and its dire need to maintain healthy supply networks.

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