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Reasons for Mining Gold, diamonds and ores such as uranium supply national governments with trading goods

, and provide jobs for millions of miners. Mining is essential to modern society. The computer you are using to read this contains about 37 materials that came from mining. The electricity to power it may come from coal, oil, or gas brought from underground.

The advantage to a company and country is that gold is a storehouse of value. Mining and refining it provides a form of hard currency. Gold is industrially useful as a corrosion resistant coating for electronics (there is some in almost every computer). The disadvantages include that mining can damage the environment both on and below the surface. It can imperil water resources by contamination with heavy metals. The miners may be exploited by companies to work in old or dangerous mines, and the temptation to theft can lead to harsh treatment.

Researchers get plastic to act totally metal
Plastics became ubiquitous during the 20th century. They were hot topics of industrial and academic research, and saw innumerable consumer applications. While plastics can have a wide variety of mechanical properties, they are almost universally good insulators, both of heat and electricity. But a paper out of the Pappalardo Micro and Nano Engineering Laboratories reports on a novel processing technique that aligns the polymer chains of polyethylene, which results in a material that has both a high thermal capacitance and a high electrical resistance. The researchers forced the polyethylene to form into this aligned morphology by slowly drawing the fiber out of solution using the tip of an atomic force microscope. The new fibrous form of polyethylene conducts heat well along the direction of the fibers—so well, it beats out many pure metals, including iron and

But this paper doesn't simply use the difference to produce some electricity. This surprising ability to move heat could find uses in any number of technologies that currently rely on metal as a heat transfer medium. or motion. Fresh water + salt water + bacteria = renewable energy By John Timmer | Published less than a minute ago Most of the renewable energy sources that are under consideration involve an obvious source of energy—light. These prior attempts. The process is still fundamentally electrochemical. instead. since there was high thermal resistance at the interface between the plastic and additive. heat. It's not currently known how well. the team has only produced single fibers in the laboratory. but prevents the . resulted in only modest gains. This new method differs from previous attempts at creating a more heat-conductive plastic in that it transforms the morphology of the underlying material instead of using an additive. if at all. while scalable. Sea water and fresh water are placed on opposite sides of a membrane that allows ions through. So far. the process will be able to scale up to production. but they hope to be able to scale up to macro-scale production of entire sheets of this material.The resulting fiber was about 300 times more thermally conductive than normal polyethylene.platinum. it adds bacteria to the process and takes out a portable fuel: hydrogen. But this is the second time this year there has been a paper that has focused on a less obvious source: the potential difference between fresh river water and the salty oceans it flows into.

again too low to power the splitting of water on its own. the authors went ahead and merged the two. The efficiency was rather impressive. the total energy content of the hydrogen was 36 percent of the energy input into the system in the form of acetate. Five fresh/salt water exchange cells were placed in series. makes this an impractical method of producing hydrogen by splitting water. When given a source of organic material. about 85 percent of the energy stored in the hydrogen came from the salt-fresh water difference. The ions will move to the fresh water to balance osmotic forces. but only by applying an additional source of voltage. using it for their continued survival and growth. People have gotten bacteria-powered hydrogen production to work. which will create a charge difference that can be harvested for various purposes. But when directly linked to the bacterial system. the authors used acetate). It's possible to reach the requisite voltages if enough of these cells are placed in series. however. At slower flow rates. That's where the bacteria come in. ATP.passage of water molecules. and hydrogen continued to be released until the acetate was exhausted. The authors showed that it's possible to use a cheaper. The bacteria took the remainder of the energy from the acetate. it gave them a sufficient boost to liberate hydrogen. Hook the bacteria up to an electrode. The voltage produced in a single one of these cells is small. This also provides a relatively low-voltage source of electricity. The small voltage per cell. Pumping water through the system only accounted for about one percent of the energy cost. The authors suggest that it might be possible . the bacteria will harvest its electrons by oxidizing the carbon and convert their energy into the cell's main power supply. and they'll push their electrons into that. This small set of cells on its own isn't even sufficient to produce usable current. they'll use an inconvenient one. Increasing the flow of water through the cells boosted the production rate. Molybdenumbased cathode. If they lack a convenient electron acceptor. with the final anode being used to host bacteria. and so many membranes that the cost of this sort of apparatus is prohibitive. The bad news is that this highly efficient system requires an expensive. even if it happens to be outside the cell (this is the principle behind the uraniummunching bacteria we discussed recently). but this requires dozens of them. platinumbased cathode. So. so long as they were supplied with organic matter (in their experiments. But they have to put those electrons somewhere. but efficiencies dropped. but the source of the power is essentially unlimited and is available 24 hours a day. At this flow rate.

Acetate provided a convenient way of measuring the amount of energy input into the system. farm waste and human waste could work just as well. Some of you are probably wondering whether we've got a cheap renewable source of find a cheap material that works well with this system but. we don't need one. we could potentially hook these systems up to a sewer pipe and come out with hydrogen at the other end. given the right bacterial species. as of their publication. . but bacteria can be remarkably unfussy about the source of their organic fuel. In short. As the authors point out. Fortunately. they've not identified one.