Sadly, because global banking 1% ALWAYS PRETENDS these goals have SOCIAL BENEFIT sending all our US FEDERAL HEALTH AND MEDICAL FUNDING-----all our US MILITARY FUNDING tied to VETERAN'S health care -------to developing what is a CHEMICALLY-INDUCED NETWORK OF CABLES to serve as the infrastructure for the ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID.
Will any REAL medical devices come from all these BIO-HYBRID research other than making our 99% humans partly machines? Of course there will be some REAL medical products -------for ONLY THE GLOBAL 1%.
BUT THAT IS NOT THE GOAL MOVING FORWARD.
BIO-MIMICRY IS MAKING A MACHINE ACT AS A HUMAN----NOT MAKING A HUMAN BETTER USING BIO-HYBRID MEDICINE.
As we often say----TELEMEDICINE FOR ALL is just another FAR-RIGHT WING GLOBAL BANKING 1% corruption of our REAL LEFT social progressive public access for all health care------TELEMEDICINE is simply pretending to be social benefit to send all US Federal funding to research in building the infrastructure for ONE WORLD ONE ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID.
THIS IS NOT ENTIRE ARTICLE----PLEASE GOGGLE.
Biomimicry, Biofabrication, and Biohybrid Systems: The Emergence and Evolution of Biological Design
First published: 07 September 2017
The discipline of biological design has a relatively short history, but has undergone very rapid expansion and development over that time. This Progress Report outlines the evolution of this field from biomimicry to biofabrication to biohybrid systems’ design, showcasing how each subfield incorporates bioinspired dynamic adaptation into engineered systems. Ethical implications of biological design are discussed, with an emphasis on establishing responsible practices for engineering non‐natural or hypernatural functional behaviors in biohybrid systems. This report concludes with recommendations for implementing biological design into educational curricula, ensuring effective and responsible practices for the next generation of engineers and scientists.
Dynamic problems require adaptive solutions. Since most engineered systems function in environments with constantly variable conditions, there is a great need for responsive systems that can adjust and perform in new surroundings. This is the underlying motivation for utilizing the responsive biological materials that make up the natural world. Dynamically adaptive functional behaviors such as self‐assembly, self‐healing, and environmental adaptation are inherent to biological materials. The discipline of biological design encompasses understanding of the mechanisms of these adaptive behaviors, and utilizing these capabilities in forward design of synthetic, natural, and biohybrid systems.
Biological design has a relatively short history, but has undergone very rapid expansion and development over that time. In this progress report, we will outline the evolution of this field from biomimicry to biofabrication to biohybrid systems, showcasing how the need for engineered environmental adaptation is prevalent in all subfields. First, we shall trace how the concept of bioinspiration, or imitating biological design and functionality in synthetic materials, created a new class of “smart” biomimetic materials. Then, we shall discuss how the continuing development of enabling manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing and microfluidics, has established the separate subdiscipline of biofabrication for tissue engineering, or “building with biology.” Finally, we shall investigate the convergence of these two fields into the emerging discipline of biohybrid design, the use of biological materials to power non‐natural functional behaviors in synthetic machines.
Throughout this report, we will revisit a single class of materials, hydrogels, as a case study of biological design in the context of each subfield, and discuss how the constraints, underlying principles, and end‐use applications differ in each case. We will also discuss ethical considerations of biological design, with a special focus on forward engineering non‐natural or hypernatural functional behaviors in biohybrid systems. We will conclude with recommendations for implementing biological design into educational curricula, ensuring effective and responsible practices for the next generation of engineers and scientists.
2 Biomimicry and Bioinspired Design
A deeper understanding of the underlying design principles that govern biological systems has inspired the field of biomimicry.1, 2 Observing adaptive phenomena in nature, scientists and engineers have sought to extract the components of biological design responsible for this behavior and replicate the behavior in synthetic materials. Fundamentally, this involves understanding the building blocks or base units from which a biological material is built, the hierarchical assembly of these building blocks, and the interactions and interfaces between them.
In this section, we will discuss strategies that engineers and scientists have employed to engineer bioinspired hierarchy, from bottom‐up self‐assembly and top‐down engineered assembly. We will present several key demonstrations of stimulus‐responsive hydrogels ranging from the micro‐ to the macroscale, and investigate novel demonstrations in biomimetic actuation and movement. We will conclude with the remaining challenges in the field of biomimicry and discuss the potential future impact of bioinspired design.
2.1 Engineering Bioinspired Hierarchy
The chief prerequisite to designing a biomimetic material is a fundamental understanding of the function of the biological systems by which it is inspired. As this is the aim and responsibility of the discipline of biology, it is not within the scope of this report on biological forward design. Assuming, however, that this fundamental understanding is present, the next step is to extract the functional parts of the natural systems, and assess a manufacturing approach and base synthetic material with which to replicate adaptive functionality.
During this stage of design, scale is a key factor. The base functional units of biological systems, living cells, are generally on the order of 1–100 µm, and the functional units within cells, proteins, are nanoscale. It is thus unsurprising that the rise and widespread popularity of micro‐ and nanoscale fabrication across many field of science and engineering has inspired mimicking biological design at this scale.3 By removing, or at least mitigating, the difficulty of replicating small‐scale features at the sizes in which they are present in natural systems, microfabrication and nanofabrication have been fundamental toward the creation of smart synthetic materials.
While manufacturing imitations of functional base units, or building blocks, can be readily accomplished in most cases, there exists an unresolved dichotomy in the approach used to assemble the units into a functional whole. Biological systems rely on an autonomous process, namely self‐assembly, to hierarchically organize these building blocks and coordinate communication between them. Mimicking biological materials is, however, an inherently top‐down approach that relies on reverse engineering adaptive functionality. This type of engineered assembly treats each subunit as a “black box,” where the form and composition of the box are less important than the function it performs. In this section, we will investigate the motivations underlying both self‐assembly and engineered assembly, and present significant recent advancements generated by both approaches.
2.1.1 Self‐Assembly of Bioinspired Materials
By definition, self‐assembly requires that the design of the building blocks that make up a system autonomously drives formation from a disordered grouping into a functional whole and that this formation be reversible.4 Again, novel fabrication approaches that allow for morphological control and patterning of surface properties are crucial to designing such building blocks and forward engineering their interactions with each other.
One promising approach toward self‐assembly is self‐folding, essentially engineering the phenomena of autonomous origami. In general, these approaches rely on incorporating internal stresses within flexible materials and using these stresses to transform 2D material sheets into 3D structures.5 Hydrogels, the soft hydrophilic polymers that we will use as a case study throughout this report, have tunable mechanical properties that can be modulated by chemical composition and crosslinking density.6 This renders them an ideal base material for tuning internal stresses, as spatially segregating the degree of swelling in different regions of the hydrogel generates such stresses in a precise and controllable manner.7
Gracias and co‐workers have utilized this principle of patterned differential swelling to drive self‐folding of poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG)‐based hydrogel bilayers.8 Their approach, relying on conventional photolithography to pattern PEG‐based hydrogels, has broad applicability toward the manufacturing of microscale and macroscale 3D geometries. Precise tuning of hydrogel molecular weight and thickness in each layer allowed for the patterned self‐folding of a range of geometries, including spheres, helices, and cylinders. Gracias and co‐workers also demonstrated that each of these structures could be designed to include microscale surface features, such as posts and holes, which could be used to regulate interactions and interfaces with other base units of an assembly.
An important criterion of self‐assembly is, of course, that the autonomous formation of a functional whole should be reversible. Yang and co‐workers have demonstrated pH‐triggered reversible self‐folding of hydrogel bilayers into hollow microscopic spheres, with potential applications as drug delivery devices or microrobots.9 These spheres are composed of an active hydrogel layer, poly(2‐hydroxyethyl methacrylate‐co‐acrylic acid), and a passive hydrogel layer, poly(2‐hydroxyethyl methacrylate). At basic pH levels, the active layer swelled, forming a closed hollow microsphere. Reducing pH triggered a decrease in the degree of swelling demonstrated by the active layer, opening the microspheres and releasing internal contents.
The most successful approaches toward self‐assembly of synthetic materials and systems rely on imitating assembly processes and geometries present in nature, such as spheres and helices. These have served to demonstrate that autonomous, reversible, and precisely controllable formation of a functional whole from a set of base units can be forward engineered, matching the criteria imposed by the definition of self‐assembly.
2.1.2 Engineered Assembly of Bioinspired Materials
The engineered assembly of adaptive materials draws inspiration on base unit structure from biological systems, but relies on both bioinspired and man‐made manufacturing approaches to combine the base units into a functional whole. A promising approach toward engineered assembly is based on shape memory polymers, which depend on external cues, such as heat‐ or electrical activation, to trigger conformational changes between stable states.10 These shape memory polymers can be assembled into complex 3D structures using manufacturing approaches such as 3D printing and textile‐inspired fiber weaving and knitting.11-13
Returning to the case study of hydrogels, there have been several significant examples of shape memory hydrogels in recently published literature. Osada and Matsuda demonstrated that heating and cooling of a thermo‐responsive polymer, formed by co‐polymerization of acrylic acid and n‐stearyl acrylate, could be used to mimic shape memory behaviors in hydrogels.14 When heated, the polymer became soft and flexible, allowing for ready deformation into complex 3D shapes. Subsequent cooling of the polymer increased rigidity, promoting retention of the 3D shape despite the removal of external forces driving deformation. Hao and Weiss have built on this work by developing a thermoresponsive shape memory hydrogel that switches between two flexible states, allowing for exploitation of soft and hydrophilic material properties both below and above the switching temperature.15 This quad‐polymer material was shown to effectively fix and recover shape, triggered by changes in temperature, and retain flexibility, hydrophilicity, and mechanical toughness throughout. Li and co‐workers have extended the range of potential transition mechanisms in shape memory hydrogels by incorporating light and pH‐triggered switches, in addition to thermally triggered switches, into their materials.16 This allows for dual and triple shape memory effect, enabling reversible switching between several stable states.
Shape memory hydrogels serve as significant demonstrations of engineered assembly in smart synthetic materials, and they can be combined with other approaches to further increase the complexity of functional output behaviors. For example, supramolecular interactions have been used to expand the biomimetic capabilities of such materials by giving them the ability to rapidly self‐heal and exhibit high mechanical strength in addition to demonstrating shape memory.17, 18 The triggered changes in conformation and functional behavior demonstrated in engineered assembly approaches are also reversible, similar to the self‐assembly approaches described above, providing an attractive alternative for manufacturing more complex 3D structures.
2.1.3 Interfaces in Bioinspired Materials
Both self‐assembly and engineered‐assembly approaches depend heavily on understanding and designing interfaces between building blocks, ensuring coordinated interaction and functional output. Often, this is accomplished by combining building blocks with different surface functionalization and properties.19 This provides each base unit with a specific place and function within the whole, and also allows for the feedback between units that are essential for reversible assembly and disassembly, and adaptation to dynamic environmental cues.
2.2 Bioinspired Environmental Feedback and Adaptation
The primary motivation for designing bioinspired materials is to replicate their ability to adapt to constantly changing environments. This involves understanding and utilizing the internal and external feedback loops inherent within biological systems. Some of the greatest strides in engineering adaptation into synthetic materials have been demonstrated in hydrogels, perhaps because the porous structure and diverse chemical compositions of these materials make them especially responsive to a range of environmental conditions.6 Programing specific mechanical and biochemical behaviors within hydrogels is simply a question of regulating the design of the polymer backbone and the mode of synthesis.20 In this section, we will discuss bioinspired approaches to engineering environmental adaptation in synthetic materials, with a focus on forward design of biomimetic behaviors in smart hydrogels.
2.2.1 Stimulus‐Responsive Hydrogels within Microfluidic Systems
Microfluidic devices allow for precisely controllable flow and delivery of liquids to embedded materials and systems, rendering them uniquely suited to studying the response of hydrogels to environmental stimuli.21 A variety of approaches employing chemical, mechanical, optical, electrical, and thermal stimuli to trigger responsive functional behaviors in smart hydrogels have been demonstrated within microfluidic devices.
Early studies in this field employed responsive hydrogels as valves for controlling flow inside microfluidic systems. Jo and co‐workers photopolymerized microscale hydrogel cylinders within microfluidic channels that are capable of reversible expansion and contraction in response to environmental pH.22 This tunable swelling allowed them to open and close channels autonomously, enabling the design of a self‐regulated flow sorter (Figure 1A). Similar microfluidic valves have also been demonstrated by West and co‐workers, who demonstrated optical control over swelling in gold‐colloid composite hydrogels.23 This allowed for greater spatiotemporal precision and more independent external control of valve opening and closing. Smart hydrogel components for microfluidic flow control have also been engineered to respond to other forms of external control, such as electrical and thermal stimuli.24, 25
Our US national FAKE NEWS media and our far-right wing global banking 1% global hedge fund former US research universities have academics and reporters making MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING-------using words like BIO-HYBRID/BIOFABRICATION while speaking of human medical procedures. BIO-HYBRID is a CHEMICAL MANUFACTURING term ------meaning the goals of copying human nervous system transition of information in the construction of ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY HARDWARE INFRASTRUCTURE-----that is what is our electrical circuitry tied to corner circuitry boxes in our communities. What are pump/circuit regulators-----pump/circuit conductors tied to electrical hardware have goals of being replaced by CHEMICAL SYSTEMS that mimic our human nervous and circulatory system.
'The researchers also expect that their methodology could have considerable potential for translation into areas such as robotics, computing, and healthcare'.
All of this is for ONE WORLD ONE ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID----not for US 99% WE THE PEOPLE health care.
BIOLOGICAL DESIGN is that goal of replacing HUMANS with artificial intelligence and robotics -----exploiting our HUMANITY to build a working work that ELIMINATES HUMANITY.
OUR FAKE NEWS MEDIA AND GLOBAL BANKING 1% HEDGE FUND CORPORATE UNIVERSITIES ARE DELIBERATELY CONFUSING THIS ONCE ANIMAL/HUMAN RESEARCH IN BIOMIMICRY/BIOFABRICATION/BIOHYBRID RESEARCH NOW BEING MACHINERY.
So, why should our US 99% of WE THE PEOPLE care about these research goals MOVING FORWARD?
'Biomimicry, Biofabrication, and Biohybrid Systems:
The Emergence and Evolution of Biological Design
First published: 07 September 2017'
Smart materials get SMARTer
July 11, 2012
Self-powered, homeostatic nanomaterials that actively self-regulate in response to environmental change
Living organisms have developed sophisticated ways to maintain stability in a changing environment, withstanding fluctuations in temperature, pH, pressure, and the presence or absence of crucial molecules. The integration of similar features in artificial materials, however, has remained a challenge—until now.
In the July 12 issue of Nature, a Harvard-led team of engineers presented a strategy for building self-thermoregulating nanomaterials that can, in principle, be tailored to maintain a set pH, pressure, or just about any other desired parameter by meeting the environmental changes with a compensatory chemical feedback response.
Called SMARTS (Self-regulated Mechano-chemical Adaptively Reconfigurable Tunable System), this newly developed materials platform offers a customizable way to autonomously turn chemical reactions on and off and reproduce the type of dynamic self-powered feedback loops found in biological systems. The advance represents a step toward more intelligent and efficient medical implants and even dynamic buildings that could respond to the weather for increased energy efficiency. The researchers also expect that their methodology could have considerable potential for translation into areas such as robotics, computing, and healthcare.
Structurally, SMARTS resembles a microscopic toothbrush, with bristles that can stand up or lie down, making and breaking contact with a layer containing chemical “nutrients.”
“Think about how goose bumps form on your skin,” explains lead author Joanna Aizenberg, Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. “When it is cold out, tiny muscles at the base of each hair on your arm cause the hairs to stand up in an insulating layer. As your skin warms up, the muscles contract and the hairs lie back down to keep you from overheating. SMARTS works in a similar way.”
Natural materials like skin are incredibly dynamic and can maintain control in a wide range of environments through self-regulation. By contrast, synthetic materials cannot easily replicate homeostasis. Even the “smartest” materials—like eyeglasses that darken in sunlight, or a piezoelectric sensor that converts the vibrations of an acoustic guitar into a digital audio signal--typically only react to one specific environmental stimulus and do not self-regulate.
“By building dynamic feedback loops into SMARTS from the bottom up, we were able to integrate the desired regulatory features into the material itself,” says co-lead author Ximin He, a postdoctoral fellow in the Aizenberg lab at SEAS and at the Wyss Institute. “Whether it is the pH level, temperature, wetness, pressure, or something else, SMARTS can be designed to directly sense and modulate the desired stimulus using no external power or complex machinery, giving us a conceptually new robust platform that is customizable, reversible, and remarkably precise.”
To demonstrate SMARTS, He, Aizenberg, and the team chose temperature as the stimulus and embedded an array of tiny nanofibers, akin to little hairs, in a layer of hydrogel. The hydrogel, similar to a muscle, can either swell or contract in response to changes in the temperature.
When the temperature drops, the gel swells, and the hairs stand upright and make contact with the nutrient layer; when it warms up, the gel contracts, and the hairs lie down. The key aspect is that molecular catalysts placed on the tips of the nanofibers can trigger heat-generating chemical reactions in the nutrient layer.
“The bilayer system effectively creates a self-regulated on-and-off switch controlled by the motion of the hairs, turning the reaction on and generating heat when it is cold. Once the temperature has achieved a pre-determined level, the hydrogel contracts, causing the hairs to lie down, interrupting further generation of heat. When it cools again below the set-point the cycle restarts autonomously. It’s homeostasis, right down at the materials level,” says Aizenberg.
The researchers anticipate that with further refinement the technique could be integrated into materials for medical implants to help stabilize bodily functions, perhaps sensing and adjusting the level of glucose or carbon dioxide in the blood. Furthermore, the oscillating mechanical motion of the hairs could be put to work or used for propulsion, like cilia in a living organism.
Beside its technological applications, SMARTS is also an ideal “laboratory” to study the fundamental properties of biological and chemical systems, such as how living systems are able to so efficiently convert between chemical and mechanical processes.
“We found a new way to think about materials and created a fascinating system to look at some fundamental, deep questions about how living things maintain a stable state,” says Aizenberg.
Aizenberg and He collaborated with Michael Aizenberg, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard; Olga Kuksenok and Anna Balazs, University of Pittsburgh; and Lauren D. Zarzar and Ankita Shastri, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University.
When our communities have an electrical circuitry box on a corner with a network connected to one service area which is then tied to another service area ----we maintain that circuitry -----we regulate that circuitry-----we control the operations of that circuitry. Our US 99% WE THE PEOPLE and our engineers know how to build infrastructure ---they have access to the materials to fashion pumps, regulators, transmitters ------
WE HAVE THE KNOW-HOW AND CAN DO OF BUILDING 20TH CENTURY INFRASTRUCTURE ----ELECTRICITY/PHONE/GAS/WATER.
Here is the problem: what is being designed today in MOVING FORWARD ONE WORLD ONE ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID using technology that will be too hard to replicate-----too expensive to buy and replace-----makes it impossible for our US 99% WE THE PEOPLE to use this technology for OUR 99% WE THE PEOPLE SUSTAINABILITY.
This system is being built as ONE GRID with NO LOCAL control-----the entire US FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONE can be shut down with one switch and remain DARK. It is the same as that RED BUTTON a US President has on his desk for NUCLEAR WAR.
EXCEPT-----THIS IS OUR VITAL ENERGY/WATER RESOURCE GRID.
What we are NOT HEARING is this:
this ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID is being built for GLOBAL CORPORATE CAMPUSES/FACTORIES ONLY. When we see articles discussing CUSTOMER PARTICIPATION/SATISFACTION----that is not in this equation.
This is NOT an ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID being built for access of our US 99% WE THE PEOPLE -----and we will NOT get CUSTOMER SERVICE or SATISFACTION.
U.S. Department of Energy |September
Customer Participation in the Smart Grid - Lessons Learned
The Importance and Challenges of Customer
Effective customer communication is paramount for any utility installing smart meters and
but can present challenges for both the utility and the customer. In
many cases, customers have little experience with smart meters, the hourly data they provide,
to manage their electricity use and costs daily or even hourly during critical peak events.
Likewise, these technologies are new
to utilities and many are gaining technology expertise as
they deploy the systems while simultaneously communicating with their customers.
Complicating this challenge is the sheer number of new and interdependent technologies and
techniques that utilities are introducing, including time-based rate and load management
programs; new devices such as in-home displays (IHDs), programmable communicating
thermostats (PCTs), and home area networks (HANs); and information systems such as web
portals, bill comparison calculators, and energy management software.
Getting customer communications “right” is
essential for success.
It empowers customers to
increase their involvement in electricity markets by participating in demand-side management,
and even installing distributed energy resources such as rooftop photovoltaic arrays and
combined heat and power systems.
Utilities understand that more frequent and informative customer communications are
to-face, on the phone, or most often electronically, using automated
messages and responses. Internet and web-based tools, including social media, are being
heavily used, as they are in virtually all marketing activities
. Traditional techniques such as
public meetings, mailings, and phone calls are also important
. Pilot projects have found that
there is no single right way,
and several communication methods are often needed. The job of
smart grid customer education is never done.
Three communications activities are particularly noteworthy for the opportunities they provide
in addressing specific customer needs, and are explored individually in this report:
Customer notification methods and education strategies:
This includes electronic and
other notifications of both billing status and “day before” announcements of critical
peak event days. For these efforts to work properly,
messages need to be successfully
delivered and received.
Community outreach and public meetings:
These meetings play a valuable role in the
early stages of smart meter deployments to raise awareness and bring potential issues
to the surface
. Public concerns about smart meters have led several states to offer “opt
U.S. Department of Energy |September
Customer Participation in the Smart Grid - Lessons Learned
. Community outreach efforts, in several instances, have shown benefits
in addressing customer concerns
Call centers, web portals, and customer devices:
These techniques are used extensively
by electric utilities and in other business sectors, but the challenges of smart metering
and customer systems have caused many of the SGIG projects to test new ideas and
implement approaches they have never tried before.
Collectively, utilities that are piloting smart metering and customer system projects have
climbed learning curves, identified mistakes, and determined best practices as they test and
assess a variety of approaches to customer communications. Some notable project experiences
are shared in this report; others will be included in subsequent reports, and all are made public
MYTH ONE-------ALL 99% OF WE THE PEOPLE WILL BENEFIT.
MYTH TWO-------THIS IS CHEAPER------
Global banking 1% FAKE NEWS DATA and academics sending out all kinds of articles telling us all this ONE WORLD SMART GRID is going to save all kinds of money. Less worker salaries-------less frequent repairs-----less frequent replacement-------except-----NONE OF THAT IS TRUE.
When we discuss the 4 WAVES of development for ONE WORLD ONE ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID and a TIMELINE for all of what these global banking 1% players are saying is the end goal-----the timeline for getting this COMPLEX SYSTEM OF BIOMIMACRY/BIOHYBRID/BIOFABRICATION to where it works with EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY------is NOWHERE IN SIGHT.
So, our US 99% of WE THE PEOPLE will be forced as an only-resort to face the INEFFICIENCY----THE INEFFECTIVENESS of this SMART GRID for all of 21st century. They will install it and tell us to STOP WHINING as none of it is ready for PRIME TIME.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION ------CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS ----FORGET-ABOUT-IT.
If we think our 20th century energy/technology grid left to decay without repair caused the most effective/efficient system to FAIL TOO OFTEN----just wait as a SMART GRID system is installed before it is EVEN READY.
SERVICE DOWN FOR DAYS---DON'T WORRY WE ARE WORKING ON THAT!
Biological signalling processes in intelligent materials
July 18, 2018
University of Freiburg
Researchers are developing innovative biohybrid systems with information processing functionality.
Scientists from the University of Freiburg have developed materials systems that are composed of biological components and polymer materials and are capable of perceiving and processing information.
These biohybrid systems were engineered to perform certain functions, such as the counting signal pulses in order to release bioactive molecules or drugs at the correct time, or to detect enzymes and small molecules such as antibiotics in milk. The interdisciplinary team presented their results in some of the leading journals in the field, including Advanced Materials and Materials Today.
Living systems (such as cells and organisms) and electrical systems (such as computers) respond to different input information, and have diverse output capabilities. However, the fundamental property these complex systems share is the ability to process information. Over the past two decades, scientists have applied the principles of electrical engineering to design and build living cells that perceive and process information and perform desired functions. This field is called synthetic biology, and it has many exciting applications in the medical, biotechnology, energy and environmental sectors.
"Thanks to major progress in our understanding of the components and wiring of biological signalling processes, we are now at a stage where we can transfer biological modules from synthetic biology to materials," explains lead researcher Prof. Wilfried Weber from the Faculty of Biology and the BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies. A critical step in the development of these smart materials systems was to optimally align the activity of the biological building blocks. Similar to computers, incompatibility of individual components might crash the overall system. Key to overcoming this challenge were quantitative mathematical models developed by Prof. Jens Timmer and Dr. Raphael Engesser from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics.
"A great thing about these synthetic biology-inspired materials systems is their versatility," says Hanna Wagner, the first author of one of the studies and a doctoral candidate in the Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM). The modular design concept put forth in these studies provides a blueprint for engineering biohybrid materials systems that can sense and process diverse physical, chemical or biological signals and perform desired functions, such as the amplification of signals, the storage of information, or the controlled release of bioactive molecules. These innovative materials might therefore have broad applications in research, biotechnology and medicine.
Here is what we KNOW about the EFFICIENCY/EFFECTIVENESS of ONE WORLD ONE ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID. It is not only MORE expensive to build and maintain-----it is SUPER-DUPER MORE expensive. It is not only NOT GREEN but it will deplete all of our EARTH'S NATURAL RESOURCES especially our MINERALS AND ORES------it is not only LESS likely to have episodes of FAILURE-----it is guaranteed a system as COMPLEX as this WILL BE FAILING ALL THE TIME.
So why are those dastardly global banking 1% SHIP OF FOOLS MOVING FORWARD a totally INEFFECTIVE and INEFFICIENT model for something as important as our VITAL ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID?
All of this BIOMIMACRY/BIOFABRICATION/BIOHYBID technology is needed for SPACE COLONY INFRASTRUCTURE. The atmosphere on planets like MARS---moons like CERES are TOO HARSH to install a fully functioning INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURING PLANT. What global banking 1% HOPES to do is build structures that replicate themselves ---repair themselves to CIRCUMVENT this inability to have INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURING ON A PLANET.
This is the TOTALITY of the goals behind installing ONE WORLD ONE ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID. The only side of this goal our US 99% WE THE PEOPLE will see is the DEEP, DEEP, REALLY DEEP STATE global military junta security and policing-----DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS.
Here is a great big global banking 1% FAKE NEWS media giving us a hint as to these goals----but they PRETEND all this may happen by 2030. Why do they do this? To make our US and global 99% of citizens think all these trillions of dollars and raping of all our EARTH's natural ores and minerals will see SOCIAL BENEFIT. Got to make those EARTHLINGS think we really can replace EARTH'S minerals and ores REALLY FAST.
Global banking 1% will DEPLETE our EARTH'S natural MINERALS AND ORES before they even figure out how to build a planetary space colony.
Is that last century's PUBLIC SPACE program or ELON MUSK'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT??????
'Humans will be living and working on Mars in colonies entirely independent of Earth by the 2030s, Nasa has said'.
Nasa planning ‘Earth Independent’ Mars colony by 2030s
- Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
9 October 2015 • 5:30pm THE TELEGRAPH Humans will be living and working on Mars in colonies entirely independent of Earth by the 2030s, Nasa has said.
The US space organisation today released its plan for establishing permanent settlements on the red planet, setting out in detail plans to create ‘deep-space habitation facilities’ which will act as stepping stones to Mars.
In a new report entitled ‘Journey to Mars’ Nasa said the mission was ‘historic pioneering endeavor’ similar to the early settlers in America and Moon landing.
“Like the Apollo programme, we embark on this journey for all humanity,” the report states. “Unlike Apollo, we will be going to stay.
“In the next few decades, Nasa will take steps toward establishing a human presence beyond Earth.
“We seek the capacity for people to work, learn operate and sustainably live beyond Earth for extended periods of time. Any journey to Mars will take many months each way and early return is not an option.
“Efforts made today and in the next decade will lay the foundation for an Earth Independent, sustained presence in deep space. Living and working in space require accepting risk and the journey is worth the risk.”
Nasa has divided the challenge of getting to Mars into three stages; Earth reliant, proving ground and Earth independent.
In the coming decades the space agency will continue to gather information from experiments aboard the International Space Station, so that crews can live in deep space without health problems from radiation and the effects of micro-gravity.
Currently the amount of time astronauts can spend in space is limited because of fears that space radiation causes cancer. Many crew members also need glasses after returning from space because the effects of micro-gravity causes pressure to build up in the optic nerve. There are also fears that astronauts could develop dementia or suffer fertility problems.
The first experiments away from the ISS will take place in cislunar space – the area of space around the Moon – before missions begin venturing further afield.
The final step will see human missions sent into Mars’ orbit or one of its moons, before crews eventually land on the Martian surface and set up colonies using modular architecture and 3-D printing.
“NASA is closer to sending American astronauts to Mars than at any point in our history,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
“Today, we are publishing additional details about our journey to Mars plan and how we are aligning all of our work in support of this goal. In the coming weeks, I look forward to continuing to discuss the details of our plan with members of Congress, as well as our commercial and our international and partners, many of whom will be attending the International Astronautical Congress next week.”
Nasa says it is also committed to designing ‘a new and powerful transportation’ system which will involve solar electric propulsion, using the Sun’s energy to take spacecraft deeper into space. Cargo ships will being shuttling supplies to Mars, months or even years before the first humans land.
It is hoping that the upcoming Asteroid Redirect Mission, which seeks to bring an asteroid into lunar orbit where it can be studied, will be using solar propulsion, and Mars scientists will be following its progress closesly.
“NASA’s strategy connects near-term activities and capability development to the journey to Mars and a future with a sustainable human presence in deep space,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters.”
Probes and robotic rovers like Curiosity have already been on or around Mars for 40 years and Nasa will continue to send new landers in the coming decades to gather more information about the planet ahead of landing. Recent discoveries have shown that salt water which could sustain life is likely to be flowing on Mars. The remains of ancient lakes and river beds are also present.
The report concludes: “NASA and its partners are working on the solutions every day so we can answer some of humanity’s fundamental questions about life beyond Earth: Was Mars home to microbial life? Is it today? Could it be a safe home for humans one day? What can it teach us about life elsewhere in the cosmos or how life began on Earth? What can it teach us about Earth’s past, present and future?”
However Nasa may be beaten. The Mars One project, set up by a nonprofit organization based in the Netherlands has proposed to land the first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony there by 2027.
Below we see an article written by a FAR-RIGHT WING global banking 5% freemason/Greek player that looks like it is written for SOCIAL BENEFIT--------it certainly is HAZARDOUS to our US 99% WE THE PEOPLE health to be made PLANETARY MINING SLAVES living in PLANETARY COLONIES-----but DANIELLE'S job as a FAKE DATA scientist from HARVARD-----is to plant that SEED of what may not be possible maybe can be possible. So, she writes an article stating just what global banking 1% want our US 99% WE THE PEOPLE to believe-----all that's needed to make that HOLY GRAIL DREAM come true for global 1% OLD WORLD KINGS AND QUEENS-----is just what is MOVING FORWARD with ONE WORLD ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID. This is the description we have been discussing these few days---all that BIOMIMACRY/BIOFABRICATION/BIOHYBRID self-contained system.
'But a colony on Mars would need to be a nearly perfectly self-contained, resource neutral system that harvests energy from the sun and is rarely or never re-supplied'
What makes DANIELLE a FAR-RIGHT WING GLOBAL BANKING PLAYER rather than a REAL left social progressive scientist and BIOETHICIST------is this: she does not say reaching this goal will be next to impossible------she doesn't say that even such a self-contained system will PROTECT PLANETARY MINING SLAVES. A RESPONSIBLE physician would not deliberately plant the SEED to goals we already know will harm and kill 99% of US and global citizens black, white, and brown citizens.
THIS IS ALL TOO PENN AND TELLER-------
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
By Danielle Teller
October 30, 2015
Physician and researcher
Danielle Teller is a physician specializing in intensive care and lung medicine. She has been a faculty member of the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University
The TIMELINE for actually building a MARS planet colony using ONE WORLD ONE SMART ENERGY/TECHNOLOGY GRID------likely not this 21st century and most likely NEVER.
It’s completely ridiculous to think that humans could live on Mars
By Danielle TellerOctober 30, 2015
Physician and researcher
Our 12-year-old daughter who, like us, is a big fan of The Martian by Andy Weir, said, “I can’t stand that people think we’re all going to live on Mars after we destroy our own planet. Even after we’ve made the Earth too hot and polluted for humans, it still won’t be as bad as Mars. At least there’s plenty of water here, and the atmosphere won’t make your head explode.”
What makes The Martian so wonderful is that the protagonist survives in a brutally hostile environment, against all odds, by exploiting science in clever and creative ways. To nerds like us, that’s better than Christmas morning or a hot fudge sundae. (One of us is nerdier than the other—I’m not naming any names, but his job title is “Captain of Moonshots.”) The idea of using our ingenuity to explore other planets is thrilling. Our daughter has a good point about escaping man-made disaster on Earth by colonizing Mars, though. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Mars has almost no surface water; a toxic atmosphere that is too thin for humans to survive without pressure suits; deadly solar radiation; temperatures lower than Antarctica; and few to none of the natural resources that have been critical to human success on Earth. Smart people have proposed solutions for those pesky environmental issues, some of which are seriously sci-fi, like melting the polar ice caps with nuclear bombs. But those aren’t even the real problems.
The real problems have to do with human nature and economics. First, we live on a planet that is perfect for us, and we seem to be unable to prevent ourselves from making it less and less habitable. We’re like a bunch of teenagers destroying our parents’ mansion in one long, crazy party, figuring that our backup plan is to run into the forest and build our own house. We’ll worry about how to get food and a good sound system later. Proponents of Mars colonization talk about “terraforming” Mars to make it more like Earth, but in the meantime, we’re “marsforming” Earth by making our atmosphere poisonous and annihilating our natural resources. We are also well on our way to making Earth one big desert, just like Mars.
Maybe a silver lining is that we have already proven ourselves capable of one aspect of terraforming Mars—heating up the planet. We have been warming Earth at a good clip by dumping enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. On the other hand, the atmosphere of Mars is already 95% carbon dioxide, and despite centuries of vigorous efforts to deforest our planet and burn all of the fossil fuel we can lay our hands on, humans have raised carbon dioxide levels by a paltry 0.01% on Earth. It may be enough to cook us all to death,
but staging a second industrial revolution on Mars—or exploding a few nuclear bombs (we’ve tried that here)—probably won’t raise those chilly temperatures much.
A second problem presented by human nature is that we don’t enjoy prolonged periods of extreme duress, and we don’t function particularly well under those conditions. It seems romantic to grow potatoes in a “hab” on Mars, but when you look at harsh environments on Earth, a different picture emerges. Antarctica has the closest temperatures to the red planet, an average of -56°F (-49°C) compared to an average of -67°F (-55°C) on Mars. Despite having a completely breathable atmosphere and plenty of fresh water, Antarctica has no permanent residents. Nobody wants to live there. Scientists who work at Antarctic bases suffer from a mental health disorder called Winter-Over syndrome, characterized by symptoms such as depression, irritability, aggressive behavior, insomnia, memory deficits, and the occurrence of mild fugue states known as the “antarctic stare.” Since it must be a bit like living with a colony of zombies, it’s no wonder that they want to stay drunk all winter (pdf). Living on Mars would be way, way more miserable than living in Antarctica. Imagine how much more expensive it would be to stay drunk for your entire life on Mars.
This brings us to the economic problem with colonizing Mars. It is extraordinarily expensive to ship goods to Mars, and at least right now, Mars has nothing to offer in return. There are no cod, no beavers to make hats from, no gold, no forests, none of the treasures that drew Europeans to colonize new continents. The wealth required to fund the colonies would need to come exclusively from here. We haven’t even colonized the Sahara desert, the bottom of the oceans or the moon, because it makes no economic sense. It would be far, far easier and cheaper to “terraform” the deserts on our own planet than to terraform Mars. Yet we can’t afford it. What makes us think that we could afford to colonize a barren rock 250 million miles (402 million km) away after we have used up all of our local resources?
Astro spends his days evaluating audacious ideas at X, Alphabet’s (formerly Google’s) “moonshot factory.” About six months ago, an ex-DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) program manager pitched a moonshot proposal: he wanted to set up a permanent manned colony on Mars. Astro suggested that for the amount of money and creativity necessary to set up a colony on Mars, we could help thousands of times as many people here on Earth. Sadly, this scientist wasn’t interested in projects on Earth. He said that he was a “space cadet,” and that nothing that didn’t have to do with space exploration interested him.
There is nothing wrong with being excited about exploring space. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming about setting up colonies in space either. But a colony on Mars would need to be a nearly perfectly self-contained, resource neutral system that harvests energy from the sun and is rarely or never re-supplied. That is currently beyond the reach of science and human ingenuity. Yet we are hurtling through a vast emptiness right now on a giant space station, and we won’t survive unless we learn to live in a resource neutral way. Our space station is way less boring than Mars—it is teeming with fascinating life forms and covered with mind-blowing geographic features. It even comes equipped with snacks that aren’t freeze-dried. The problems our space station faces aren’t boring either. To quote Mark Watney from The Martian, to avoid catastrophe, we’re going to have to science the shit out of this. Maybe if we got excited enough to treat Earth as though it were Mars, some of the energy currently pointed towards the stars could be repurposed to doing something even more audacious—ensure that the space station we already have can take us into the next millennium.
Hard as FILLORY grads try casting magical spells on our US 99% WE THE PEOPLE with goals of bringing a highly educated population of people back to 1000BC-----so we will believe all that global banking 1% OLD WORLD KINGS AND QUEENS tell us------AKA-----gods and goddesses---
What global banking 1% via ELON MUSK will be doing maybe by 2030 is forcing humans into planetary space travel experiments -------trying to figure out how to keep a HUMAN alive to simply GET TO MARS.
BUT ELON MUSK HAS LEV GROSSMAN'S MAGIC COINS INVENTED BY IMPRISONED RUSSIAN GENIUS SAY GLOBAL BANKING 5% FREEMASON/GREEK PLAYERS!
All of that DEEP, DEEP, REALLY DEEP STATE of SMART CITIES will help achieve THAT goal.
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Penn & Teller: Fool Us Video
- Let's Hear It For The Kids | Stream Free
Well, say global banking 1%---we have to PRETEND there is a social benefit to move $21 trillion of US 99% WE THE PEOPLE'S wealth to all this R AND D after all.
High-Tech can’t last: Limited minerals & metals essential for wind, solar, microchips, cars, & other high-tech gadgets
Posted on February 26, 2014 by energyskeptic
Metals and minerals aren’t just physically limited, they can be economically limited by a financial collapse, which dries up credit and the ability to borrow for new projects to mine and crush ores. Economic collapse drives companies and even nations out of business, disrupting supply chains.
Supply chains can also be disrupted by the coming oil shocks and natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes. The more complex, the more minerals, metals, and other materials, machines, chemicals, a product depends on, the greater the odds of disruption.
Minerals and metals can also be politically limited. China controls over 90% of some critical elements.
The next war over resources is likely to be done via cyber-attacks that take down an opponent’s electric grid, which would affect nearly all of the other essential infrastructure a nation depends on:
Agriculture and food; defense industrial base; energy; healthcare and public health; banking and finance; drinking water and water treatment systems; chemical; commercial facilities; dams; emergency services; commercial nuclear reactors, materials, and waste; information technology; communications; postal and shipping; transportation and systems; government facilities; critical manufacturing (NIPP)
These are nearly as essential as fossil fuels to maintaining civilization, yet depend on 60 minerals & metals, chemicals, high-tech machines, etc., making them more vulnerable than any other product to supply chain and cascading failures.
According to the National Mining Association “Minerals: America’s Strength”, while just 12 minerals were used to fabricate microchips initially, now over 60 different kinds of minerals are required. The title ought to be “Minerals: America’s weakness” because:
- This report says we’re in trouble: the U.S. is 100% dependent on imports for 19 different minerals and over 50% for another 43 minerals. These trends are unsustainable in a highly competitive world economy in which the demand for minerals continues to grow and supply stability is a growing concern.
- Many of these minerals are both rare and past peak production
- Many of them come from only one country (single-source failure)
- China is the sole source for many of these minerals, and other countries such as failed nations like the Democratic Republic of Congo are not a reliable source.
Antimony, Arsenic, Barium, Beryllium, Bismuth, Boron, Bromine, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt, Europium, Ferrite, Gallium, Germanium, Gold, Indium, Lead, Lithium, Magnesium, Manganese, Nickel, Niobium, Palladium, Petroleum, Phosphorus, Platinum, Rhodium, Ruthenium, Selenium, Silver, (Stainless) steel, Tantalum, Terbium, Tin, Titanium, Vanadium, Yttrium, Zinc
Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Democratic Republic Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Israel, Japan, Kazahkstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Ukraine, USA
Source: laptop supply chain assembly process documented in Bonanni et al (2010):
We’re dependent on China for 100% of these metals and minerals: Arsenic Asbestos Bauxite Alulmina Cesium Fluorspar Gallium, Graphite (natural) Indium Manganese Mica (sheet, natural) Niobium (columbium) Quartz crystal (industrial) Rubidium Strontium Tantalum Thallium Thorium Vanadium Yttrium
Percent dependency on imports for these minerals: 99% gemstone 96% Vanadium 92% Bismuth 91% Platinum 90% Germanium 88% Iodine 85% Diamond (natural industrial stone) 87% Antimony 86% Rhenium 83% Barite 77% Titanium mineral concentrates 81% potash (essential fr agriculture) 78% cobalt 78% Rhenium 75% Tin 73% Silicon carbide (crude) 72% Zinc 70% Chromium 65% Garnet (industrial) 64% Titanium (sponge) 62% Peat 57% Silver 54% Palladium 49% Nickel 46% magnesium compounds 42% Tungsten 36% silicon 35% copper 35% Nitrogen (fixed, Ammonia: essential for industrial agriculture)
Rare Earth Elements
Rare earth elements (and platinum group metals) are essential for high-tech technology: i.e. hybrid cars, computers, cell phones, television — anything with a microchip, even toasters. They are finite, mostly controlled by China (up to 97% by some estimates), the last resources are mainly in war-torn failed states in Africa, Afghanistan, etc., and vulnerable to supply chain failure.
“To provide most of our power through renewables would take hundreds of times the amount of rare earth metals that we are mining today,” according to Thomas Graedel at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
So renewable energy resources like windmills and solar PV can not ever replace fossil fuels, there’s not enough of many essential minerals to scale this technology up.
There are no substitutes for rare earth minerals and metals.
Computer chips are dependent on 60 minerals, many rare, which is why this will be one of the first technologies to fail in the future as a series of cascading failures, supply chain breakdowns, and other problems arise when fossil fuels start to decline at exponential rates within the next decade. Computer chips are also vulnerable to Liebig’s Law of the Mininum, since if even one of these 60 minerals is missing, the chip can’t be manufactured.
Since mining is one of the most energy intensive and polluting enterprises, the decline of fossil fuels will cause many mines to shut down, hastening the end of hi-tech products as needed rare metals — even common ones at some point down the energy ladder — are no longer available. We mined the highest concentration ores at a time when fossil fuels were plentiful, now we’re down to low-grade ore at a time when the RATE of fossil fuel extraction is about to exponentially decline.
China controls many of these rare metals, Russia has 80% of palladium supplies, another potential source of supply chain breakdowns if they’re withheld from world markets.
Why are rare metals rare?
By and large they make up a few parts per billion of Earth’s crust, and we don’t know where they are, according to Murray Hitzman, an economic geologist at the Colorado School of Mines. Some of these minerals are byproducts of mining for aluminium, zinc and copper.
An element’s price isn’t the only problem. The rare earth group of elements, to which many of the most technologically critical belong, are generally found together in ores that also contain small amounts of radioactive elements such as thorium and uranium. In 1998, chemical processing of these ores was suspended at the only US mine for rare earth elements in Mountain Pass, California, due to environmental concerns associated with these radioactive contaminants. The mine is expected to reopen with improved safeguards later this year, but until then the world is dependent on China for nearly all its rare-earth supplies. Since 2005, China has been placing increasingly stringent limits on exports, citing demand from its own burgeoning manufacturing industries.
That means politicians hoping to wean the west off its ruinous oil dependence are in for a nasty surprise: new and greener technologies are hardly a recipe for self-sufficiency.
So what can we do?
Finding more readily available materials that perform the same technological tricks not likely, says Karl Gschneidner, a metallurgist at the DoE’s Ames Laboratory. Europium has been used to generate red light in televisions for almost 50 years, he says, while neodymium magnets have been around for 25. “People have been looking ever since day one to replace them, and nobody’s done it yet.”
Technological concerns and environmental permits can delay extraction for 15 years after an ore deposit is discovered.
Rare Earth metals are used in many products:
- Magnets (Neodymium, Praseodymium, Terbium, Dysprosium): Motors, disc drives, MRI, power generation, microphones and speakers, magnetic refrigeration
- Metallurgical alloys (Lanthanum, Cerium, Praseodymium, Neodymium, Yttrium): NimH batteries, fuel cells, steel, lighter flints, super alloys, aluminum/magnesium
- Phosphors (Europium, Yttrium, Terbium, Neodymium, Erbium, Gadolinium, Cerium, Praseodymium): display phosphors CRT, LPD, LCD; fluorescent lighting, medical imaging, lasers, fiber optics
- Glass and Polishing (Cerium, Lanthanum, Praseodymium, Neodymium, Gadolinium, Erbium, Holmium): polishing compounds, decolorizers, UV resistant glass, X-ray imaging
- Catalysts (Lanthanum, Cerium, Praseodymium, Neodymium): petroleum refining, catalytic converter, diesel additives, chemical processing, industrial pollution scrubbing
- Other applications:
- Nuclear (Europium, Gadolinium, Cerium, Yttrium, Sm, Erbium)
- Defense (Neodymium, Praseodymium, Dysprosium, Terbium, Europium, Yttrium, Lanthanum, Lutetium, Scandium, Samarium)
- Water Treatment
- Fuel cells (SOFC use lanthaneum, cerium, prasedymium)
8 Rare Earth Metals are used in hybrid electric vehicles
Source: Ree applications in a hybrid electric vehicle. Molycorp Inc. 2010
- Cerium: UV cut glass, Glass and mirrors, polishing powder, LCD screen, catalytic converter, hybrid NiMH battery, Diesel fuel additive
- Dysprosium: Hybrid electric motor and generator
- Europium: LCD screen
- Lanthanum: Catalytic Converter, Hybrid NiMH battery, diesel fuel additive
- Neodymium: magnets in 25+ electric motors throughout vehicle, Headlight Glass, Hybrid electric motor and generator
- Praseodymium: Hybrid electric motor and generator
- Terbium: Hybrid electric motor and generator
- Yttrium: LCD screen, component sensors
Cerium (see Lanthanum) is used in catalytic converters, oil refining
Dysprosium has magnetic properties that don’t go away in high temperatures, essential for high-performance magnets in turbines, hard discs, and many other products. The US navy has used it in an advanced active sonar transducer, producing and then picking up high-powered “pings” underwater.
According to the US DoE, there are no suitable replacements, and so it’s the most critical element for emerging clean energy technologies. China is the only country with significant known deposits, Mines in Australia and Canada only have small quantities Shortfall of dysprosium are expected before 2015.
Erbium is a essential for the optical fibers used to transport light-encoded information around the world because they amplify light as it’s lost along the way.
Europium is essential for lighting, so far no substitutes have been found. Everything from fluorescent light bulbs to laptop and iPhone screens relies on small but critical amounts of europium to generate a pleasant red color and terbium to make green.
“There are only 100 elements known to man, and we know what colors all of them produce, and those are the only ones that produce those particular shades,” says Alex King, director of Ames Laboratory, a rare-earth research center.
Europium and terbium combined help to produce the images on most television screens. Yttrium plays a supporting role as well.
According to the DoE, europium could be in short supply as early as 2015 – and terbium even sooner. For yttrium we have already reached crunch time: demand outstripped supply in 2010.
Gadolinium (Gd) is used in TV screens, X-ray and MRI scanning systems. In nuclear power plants it’s used in boiling water reactors to even performance. Gadolinium oxide is also used to absorb neutrons as the uranium oxide fuels gets used up.
Hafnium has amazing heat resistance so it was used as part of the alloy used in the nozzle of rocket thrusters fitted to the Apollo lunar module. It’s also used in the transistors of powerful computer chips because hafnium oxide is a highly effective electrical insulator. Compared with silicon dioxide, which is conventionally used to switch transistors on and off, it is much less likely to let unwanted currents seep through. It also switches 20% faster, allowing more information to pass. This has enabled transistor size to shrink from 65 nanometres with silicon dioxide to 32 nm. Such innovations also keep smartphones small.
Indium is used in touchscreens, PV thin films, and solar cells. China has 73% of the world’s Indium reserves and refines half of it. China limits indium exports. The USA has been 100% dependent on indium imports since 1972.
Without expanded production after 2015, the DoE says reductions in “non-clean energy demand” will be needed “to prevent shortages and price spikes”. In other words, we might need to choose which is the more important – smartphones or solar cells.
- Is the metal in nickel-metal-hydride batteries used in hybrid cars.
- Used as a catalyst in oil refining to separate oil into products like gasoline, jet fuel and heating oil
- Added to swimming-pool cleaner as an algae remover; it absorbs phosphate from the water, starving algae of its fundamental food source
- camera and telescope lenses, carbon lighting in studios and cinema projection
Yet they are also rather explosive characters: computer manufacturer Dell recalled four million lithium laptop batteries in 2006 amid fears they might burst into flames if overheated. That risk makes them unsuitable for use in electric and hybrid electric cars, leaving the market to the less explosion-prone nickel-metal-hydride batteries.
This is where lanthanum and cerium come in. They are the main components of a “mischmetal” mixture of rare earth elements that makes up the nickel-metal-hydride battery’s negative electrode. The increased demand for electric cars, and the elements’ subsidiary roles as phosphorescents in energy-saving light bulbs, place lanthanum and cerium on the US DoE’s short-term “near-critical” list for green technologies – a position also assumed by lithium in the medium term.
- Used in magnets in generators in wind turbines, hybrid cars, laptops, loudspeakers, and computer hard drives
- Used in high-temp dry film lubricant that works at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit
- Used in welding goggles to cut out the yellow-green wavelength of light, which would burn your retina
These numerous uses make for a perfect storm threatening future supplies. In its Critical Materials Strategy, which assesses elements crucial for future green-energy technologies, the US Department of Energy estimates that wind turbines and electric cars could make up 40 per cent of neodymium demand in an already overstretched market. Together with increasing demand for the element in personal electronic devices, that makes for a clear “critical” rating.
Praseodymium (Pr) Creates strong metals for aircraft engines and in the glass used to protect welders and glass makers
Rhenium is used in compact fluorescent light bulbs, and is a byproduct of copper. It’s one of the scarcest elements, and helps steel retain its shape and hardness even under extreme force and high temperatures.
Technetium is very rare because technetium, though present within uranium ores in Earth’s crust, quickly falls apart through radioactive decay. Globally, around 30 million medical procedures involving technetium are performed each year. But two new Canadian reactors which were to secure supplies of technetium and other medical isotopes have been mothballed. So it questionable whether these procedures can continue at the same rate (New Scientist, 16 January 2010, p 30).
For now, a handful of aging reactors supplies the world’s hospitals.
Tellurium In 2009, solar cells made from thin films of cadmium telluride became the first to undercut bulky silicon panels in cost per watt of electricity generating capacity. That points to a cheaper future for solar power – perhaps.
Both cadmium and tellurium are mining by-products – cadmium from zinc, and tellurium from copper. Cadmium’s toxicity means it is in plentiful supply: zinc producers are obliged to remove it during refining, and it has precious few other uses.
For tellurium, the situation is reversed. Because the global market for the element has been minute compared with that for copper – some $100 million against over $100 billion – there has been little incentive to extract it. That will change as demand grows, but better extraction methods are expected to only double the supply, which will be nowhere near enough to cover the predicted demand if the new-style solar cells take off. The US DoE anticipates a supply shortfall by 2025.
Terbium (Tb) (see Europium) Used in energy-efficient lighting
Yttrium (Y) (also see Europium)
- Used in ceramic called yttria-stabliized-zirconia, or YSZ, which has the structural strength of a diamond and is used to make wind-turbine blades
- Powderized YSZ is used as an electrolyte in fuel cells
- Yttrium phosphors are used in fluorescent lamps