THE 2011 U.S. ENDANGERED ELEMENTS LIST™ (EEL11)
A 2011 List of the Top 5 Most Threatened Metals on the Periodic Table that Endanger the Long Term Prospects for America
Alisha A. Ahern, Co-Director
Academics & Periodicals Department, American Elements
ABOUT THE LIST
While much of this is true, innovation is in fact only the starting point. To manufacture the products flowing from great ideas, a nation must also have access to the critical materials on which the discoveries are based. Each of the metals on the periodic table has its own somewhat alchemistic properties. These properties underlie every great invention. Bell and Edison were successful because they could rely on the copper mines of the southwest for the massive amount of electrically conductive copper needed to build the telephone lines and power lines their inventions required. Ford could reach to the iron and coal mines of the Appalachians for the key components of the steel to build his cars and Texas for the oil and gas necessary to fuel and lubricate them.
The coming innovations of the 21st Century will also require massive amounts of various metals. However, the metals of the 21st Century are very different from the ones that mattered in the 20th Century. Copper, iron, nickel and tin have given way to somewhat exotic sounding metals a lot further down the Periodic Table; metals that all Americans need to quickly get familiar with because at present we mine almost NONE of them. Additionally, we have made virtually no effort to deal with this strategic gap in our ability to manufacture the things we invent; either domestically or in our foreign policy towards mineral-rich nations.
The primary purpose of the EEL11 is to bring attention to this crisis and to educate Americans as to (1) which metals are critical, (2) what makes them essential and endangered and (3) what other nations, particularly China, are doing to assure they can produce what they (or we) invent.
Alisha A. Ahern is the co-director of the Academics & Periodicals Department at American Elements which promotes an understanding of advanced materials and materials science. The department sponsors over 100 technology conferences globally each year, supports materials science education at the high school, college and graduate school levels and earlier this year co-sponsored a 4 part PBS NOVA series titled "Making Stuff" on the impact materials will have on future technology.