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Inventor Buckminster Fuller once described technological progress as “ephemeral.”Sunshine and breezes are replacing coal and oil as energy sources, brands are more important to businesses than buildings, and fiat currencies have replaced gold and silver.So it seems reasonable to conclude that the Periodic Table—the unstable classification of physical substances like copper, iron, mercury, and sulfur—is outdated and has nothing to do with manual typewriters.
unless the exact opposite.Things still matter.On the 150th anniversary of the creation of the periodic table by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, it is more important than ever.read more
Scientists have long sought to classify known elements: in 1789, Antoine Lavoisier classified them by their properties.By 1808, John Dalton was listing them by atomic weight.In 1864, John Newlands proposed the law of octaves, claiming that every octave of elements has similar properties.But Dmitri Mendeleev created a really systematic forecast table.
Mendeleev was born in Tobolsk, Siberia, in 1834, the youngest of a dozen children, and graduated from the main educational institute in St. Petersburg in 1855.He studied chemistry in Heidelberg and Paris before earning a doctorate in his hometown and becoming a tenured professor at the Imperial University of St. Petersburg.Dissatisfied with the existing Russian inorganic chemistry textbooks, he decided to write one himself.
Mendeleev’s publications from 1869 both listed the periodicity of the elements and predicted the space of the as yet undetermined elements.With the discovery of gallium in 1875, scandium in 1879, and germanium in 1886, the theory in the table was proven correct.The growing scientific acceptance of these theories has accelerated the study of the physical world and its industrial and commercial applications.Mendeleev himself got involved, investigating processes related to Russia’s coal, oil and even cheese production during Russia’s intermittent modernization process.
The table has changed a bit since he died of the flu in 1907, but its basic organization remains.Each element has a one- or two-letter chemical symbol, usually derived from its common name, but sometimes from another language, used to make gold, such as “Au” from the Latin aurum.The atomic number represents the protons in the nucleus.Standard atomic masses are sometimes given to multiple decimal places, with numbers in parentheses in the case of the longest-lived isotope.
These columns depict elements with similar chemical properties.For example, the alkali metals shown in the first column on the left have one electron in their outer shell and therefore tend to bond particularly well with halogens, and in the second column on the right, they have seven electrons in their outer shell and lack to complete it required single electron.This is how we get compounds like sodium chloride (table salt) and potassium iodide, which help protect the thyroid from radiation.
The rightmost column shows noble gases whose outer electron shells are intact, which makes most of these elements useful for lighting, since they do not react with other elements.In most periodic tables, the lanthanides and actinides are arranged in rows at the bottom to avoid making the table unrealistic.
Mendeleev didn’t get everything right: he believed that elements were unique and rejected the idea that they had the same building blocks.He also makes a puzzling case that ether is an element.But his basic design is correct, which is why he is considered its inventor today — and why its 50th anniversary is celebrated as the International Year of the Periodic Table.–Joanna Ozinger
For decades, the hydrogen battery revolution has been around for 10 years.But as Europe’s No. 1 electric vehicle powerhouse, Norway is poised to be a major adopter of the world’s richest elements.Proponents say the fuel will become more competitive as the supply of renewable hydrogen grows, which will be an important part of a greener future.
One of the long-standing impacts on hydrogen fuel is that fossil fuels are often required to produce it.That’s not the case at the Berlevag wind farm or the Norwegian city of Trondheim, where a technician employed by Swedish carmaker Scania AB is working on hydrogen electrolyzers and storage tanks fueled by solar panels.The hydrogen unit will power a fleet of trucks and forklifts being tested by local grocery wholesaler ASKO.
For now, though, the dirtier forms of hydrogen production still cost less than half that of renewables.That’s a headache for the Norwegian government, which plans to stop selling fossil-fueled cars by 2025 and expects as many as 500,000 hydrogen-fueled cars on the country’s roads in a few years’ time.At the very least, that means more electrolyzers in places like Berlevag.
If the 20th century was the era of internal combustion engines, the 21st century belongs to batteries.Within a few decades, batteries may become the main source of power for cars and trucks, and may even become commonplace in helicopters and planes.Compared to their golf cart predecessors, today’s electric vehicles can reach ridiculous speeds while emitting far less pollutants than consuming gas.They are also easier to manufacture, and their batteries can be recycled.Automakers, from General Motors to BMW, are spending billions of dollars on green transportation.But this effort comes with its own environmental hazards, and there is growing pressure to ensure companies source key elements responsibly.Like the oil industry, EVs are doomed to fall into many of the same traps, and it’s all too easy.In this issue, we examine the raw materials in batteries, from lithium to cobalt to zinc, to see how their green credentials compare.
Stronger than steel, lighter than aluminum, very rare, and toxic if inhaled, beryllium is often reserved for high-tech applications such as X-ray machines, spacecraft, nuclear reactors, and weapons.
But in the 1990s, former triathlete Chris Hinshaw saw a market opportunity: bicycles.His San Jose-based company, Beyond Beryllium Fabrications, makes about 100 bikes from the metal.Most are made from aluminum-beryllium alloys and sell for around $1,900; weapons-grade beryllium sells for as much as $30,000.Clients include baseball star Pepper Davis.
A few years later, Hinshaw stopped producing beryllium bikes because his main supplier, a Russian mine and refinery, became unreliable.“When the Soviet Union collapsed, we immediately realized that we didn’t have the proper infrastructure to not only produce products, but to produce according to the standards and expectations set by the bicycle industry,” he said.
In our October 20, 1956 issue, BusinessWeek predicted “many exciting new uses” for boron, especially in jet fuel.A few years later, scientists realized that boron-based fuels were highly toxic and prone to spontaneous combustion.Fortunately for us, boron continues to play a role in a growing number of other products, including laundry detergents, fertilizers and LCD screens.We were right in the end, just not for the reasons we thought.
Nothing will change the way you make a cup of coffee, despite pumpkin spice.The beans are roasted, ground, and then soaked in water with or without pressure.But in recent years, your basic coffee mug has undergone a major update: Unflavored nitrogen is pumped into brewed coffee for added foam and the tiniest hint of sweetness.A good nitro cold brew looks like a tempting beer with soft foam on top.According to the most popular origin story, since the first coffee poured from an Austin tap around 2012, it has become a coffee head staple and a driving force in the $4.1 billion ready-to-drink coffee category.
Portland, Ore.-based national chain Stumptown Coffee Roasters Inc. first offered canned nitro beer in 2015 after trying out a draft version.It sells about 2 million cans a year and is the company’s fastest growing product.Early on, head brewer Brent Wolczynski said, “The process was very DIY. We would put cold brew in a keg, hit it with very high pressure nitrogen, and give it a shake.”
Now the process amounts to a terrific science experiment: Each jar is outfitted with a small plastic widget that holds nitrogen gas inside.Opening the can exposes the coffee to atmospheric pressure, pushing nitrogen gas out and through the coffee.The result is a series of tiny bubbles that appear when you pour.
La Colombe Coffee Roasters is another top brand that includes oxygen, the periodic table mate of nitrogen, in its version.Draft lattes are made with nitrous oxide (N2O), a compound known for laughing gas and also used to animate cans of whipped cream.A custom valve delivers the kind of foam typically found in hot lattes into cold beverages.N2O bubbles last longer than nitro bubbles and create an extra creamy texture with a more pronounced sweetness.La Colombe even patented its can.
Starbucks, another big name in the coffee world, has announced that its nitro cold brew will be available nationwide by the end of the year.Unsurprisingly, it will be available in a variety of flavors and finishes, such as one with “Cascara Cold Foam” and another with “Sweet Cream.”There’s even pumpkin cream cold brew.
Night vision technology has become reliable and widespread, used by everyone from soldiers to bird watchers.Despite the increasing popularity of digital methods, light enhancement remains the industry standard.When moonlight reflected from an object enters these battery-powered binoculars, it passes through the lens and into the image intensifier tube.The photocathode then converts the light into electrons, which are amplified by an electron multiplier and pointed at the phosphor screen to produce a visible image.-E.Tamikin
Light has always been a photographer’s biggest concern.But in the mid-19th century, the task of capturing and creating light was enormous.In 1864, brothers Alfred, sons of British chemists, began experimenting with a primitive flashing lamp—essentially a metal-burning lamp.
The key is magnesium, a very light silver metal.At number 12 on the periodic table, near the top left, it’s one of the most common elements on Earth, but it’s never been found in its pure form.On its own, magnesium burns slowly and clearly, and emits a bright neutral light — no blue or yellow sheen.
The brothers took a block of magnesium ore, soaked it in acid, mixed it with salt, burned it, and captured the condensed water that evaporated.He hammered this block of purified metal into flakes and cut into ribbons that could be lit like a candle wick.He placed this controllable fire next to his huge boxy camera and took a portrait in his studio.”From now on, it will be almost impossible for mortals to hide themselves from the camera. We used to be safe after sunset, but not anymore,” a London-based journalist wrote in The Criterion.Soon, adventurers like Charles Piazzi Smyth took magnesium on the road to film the first scenes of the caves and the interior of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
By the 1880s, the spotlight had jumped from an explorer’s toolbox to a journalist’s toolbox.According to reports, Jacob Riis, a photographer for the New York Evening News at the time, read an article about the German glitter powder maker and reacted “with an outcry that surprised my wife.”…have found a way, it works, take pictures by flashlight.Reese bought a flash gun — which ignited the magnesium powder inside the pistol — and took it with him to shoot dark apartments on New York’s Lower East Side.Without magnesium, there would be no lifestyle for the other half.
Jessie Tarbox Beals doesn’t take apartment photos either, Jessie Tarbox Beals is a teacher-turned-photographer who shot early 20th century Portrait of a New Yorker.As historian Kate Flint writes in “Flash!In one particularly striking portrait by Beers, an unnamed woman sits on a kitchen chair with a naked baby in her arms, her expression flat and exhausted.She and her children were crammed between mismatched cribs, worn apple baskets, iron stoves, jars, kettles and bottles and plates stacked in open cabinets.Calendars and rags hanging on the walls; floors are all dirty tiles.Has any room ever seen more life?
In the decades following Beers’ death in 1942, magnesium flashes evolved only in form.It goes from flash guns to strobes—what we now imagine are the dizzying bursts of paparazzi filming in the mid-20th century.Dan Tidwell started working as a photographer during his final days in the spotlight.In 1965, at the age of 20, he was hired to document a historic project near Sacramento: the final test phase of NASA’s Apollo program.The camera Tidwell chose was a large-format Graflex 4×5 with a large flash on the right.”It’s not uncommon for that glass bulb to actually explode,” he told me.
In one of his pictures, four men in white overalls and hard hats stand in front of a giant rocket.On the right, a conical stack of wires, pipes and balloons twists in shades of black and grey.On the left, the flash merges the men’s overalls, the curved fuselage of the rocket, and the walls of the hangar into a bleached plane.
These days, this shocking aesthetic is not that popular.(Only one company in Ireland, Meggaflash, still sells vintage flashes.) In July, I attended a wedding in a dimly jasmine-scented garden in Los Angeles.As the ceremony began, nearly every guest held up her smartphone.We continued to shoot without flash long after nightfall, reflecting a shared preference for subtle edges.Only the occasional use of flash by wedding photographers interrupts our dark surroundings.He clicked the device onto the camera body and pressed the shutter.No pungent explosions or metallic fumes – just the memory of magnesium’s dazzling light.
The metallic color shown on the cover of this issue is Pantone 877 C, whose shiny quality comes from the aluminum flakes mixed into the ink.
In hydraulic fracturing, or hydraulic fracturing, drillers pump a sticky, gritty, viscous material under pressure into a well, which shatters the rock below and releases trapped oil and gas deposits.The resulting channels are kept open using “proppant” particles suspended in the fracturing fluid.The most common proppant is sand.
Fracking is now the largest consumer of U.S. sand.Not just any sand will do: The best sands have round, uniform grains and a high silica content, making them hard enough to withstand being caught between massive rocks.“The boom in U.S. hydrocarbon production depends on mining millions of tons of sand,” reads a brochure from proppant supplier Hi-Crush Inc., “and pumping it back into the ground.”
The most ideal frac sands come from the upper Midwest.Northern White and Ottawa White are prized for being free of impurities.Freight trains and barges carry the sand south to the Permian Basin and east to the Marcellus Shale.As the industry has grown, drillers trying to reduce transportation costs have turned their attention to fracking sites, digging into poorer Oklahoma sand and mining the dunes of West Texas.
Backhoes and loaders scoop up sand from shallow pits.The grains are washed, sorted by size through filters and centrifuges, and then dried in drums.Sometimes sand is coated with resin to make it stronger.
Drillers store sand on-site in silos or other containers.When needed, it is mixed with water, chemicals and thickeners such as guar gum in a large truck-mounted mixer and pumped downhole.
Since its development in 1909, fertilizers have helped feed the world.But its damage to the planet is increasingly alarming.Farmers at the Stone Barns Food and Agriculture Center in Tarrytown, N.Y., lead the way in ecological fertilization.On more than 400 acres of land donated by the Rockefeller family, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and hens rotate crops on different pastures, and their manure is also a major source of fertilizer.Stone Barns farm director Jack Algiere said phosphorus, a key element in animal manure, was one of the most carefully monitored elements on the property.He calls it the steroid of the plant kingdom — combined with nitrogen and potassium, it can turn the humble zucchini into a stunning specimen.
Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of the property’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant, wants to prove that farmers can still profit if they give up what he calls “their single-nutrient obsession” with elements like phosphorus and nitrogen.Just like too much of anything, excess phosphorus is harmful.Fertilizer-laden runoff damages waterways by stimulating overproduction of algae and weeds.
Westchester County, where Stone Barn is located, has banned commercial phosphate fertilizers because of the threat it poses to the ecology of the Hudson River.Naturally derived phosphorus is less soluble – and not banned – so Stone Barns is clear.
There was a time – 2017 – when Brexit seemed to hang over chickens washed with chlorine.The practice of sterilization is banned in Europe but common in the United States, which has insisted it will not sign a trade deal with a post-EU Britain that does not include its poultry.Two years later, a prime minister, and later no Brexit, the possible arrival of chlorinated birds still angers the “remainers”.
U.S. efforts to diversify its supply of rare earth elements (REEs) have led to an unlikely source: coal.A program started in 2014 aims to wean the United States from its dependence on China, as the 17 hard-to-mine minerals are critical to many high-tech applications, including weapons.“Our current forecast is that if high REE extraction efficiencies are achieved, there will be enough domestic coal resources to meet U.S. demand,” said Mary Anne Alvin, DOE technical manager for REEs.The program’s 22 projects rely on existing coal mining and consumption and will not cause additional environmental harm, managers said.The main challenge is to develop separation and enrichment technologies that can be scaled up to viable commercial operations.Efficient recovery of scandium, a particularly expensive rare earth element, will help achieve this goal.These are two projects at different ends of the coal production cycle.
The project aims to capture REEs from lignite, a low-grade coal.It’s easier to extract from lignite than from high-grade coal, said Nolan Theaker, the project’s technical lead at the University of North Dakota.According to Theaker, the prototype process pulverizes, screens and chemically treats 44 pounds of lignite per hour to produce a third of an ounce of rare earth oxide product — about 1/100th the amount needed for an electric vehicle motor.The project will advance to processing half a ton of coal per hour, with a pilot planned for 2023, he said.
The advantage of extraction at the end of the process is that the REE concentration in coal ash is 6 to 10 times higher than in unburned coal, said Prakash Joshi, former head of Andover, Mass.-based Physical Sciences Inc..The project’s pilot plant, due to be completed in 2020, will wash a glassy matrix containing REE from half a ton of ash per day from a power plant in Ford, Kentucky, and then use a chemical process to produce up to 17 ounces of dry matter containing at least 20% Scandium and Yttrium material.
Of course, Silicon Valley gets its name from element 14, the basic building block of computer chips.In the early days of computing, the three parts of a chip—the wafer or substrate; the transistors stacked on top; and the wires that connect to the circuit board—required only a handful of components.Today, chipmakers utilize a large slice of the periodic table.-E.Tamikin
“Titanium is stronger than steel at high temperatures, and it was named after the Titan in Greek mythology,” says science expert Bill Nye.”It doesn’t just absorb heat, it reflects it.” It’s the metal people want to connect with — and that’s why, as the August release of the Apple Card showed, titanium is the “it” material for credit cards.Even so, a laser-etched version from Apple Inc. joined the crowded metal card ranks.Review site Credit Card Insider counts 22 products on the market, and the companies tout them as being made from titanium, stainless steel (ie iron, carbon and chrome) and even 24K gold.
Despite the enthusiasm, few have truly pushed the limits of metallurgy.JPMorgan Chase & Co. received an honorable mention for its JP Morgan Reserve card – similar to a palladium card, but actually made of platinum group metals.Other companies may consider:
At the turn of the new century, Henry Ford, a twice-failed auto industry seeking a third breakthrough, had an idea for a new kind of car.Early models dealt with the rough roads of the day by sheer weight, and they were expensive to build and buy.”The greatest demand of the present day,” wrote Ford in 1906, “is a light, low-priced automobile.”
Post time: Jan-21-2022