Earlier this week, I visited my friends at Kitco News for a casual chat. They couldn’t help themselves but turn it into an article on Technology Metals with a slant on Rhodium. Click here to read it on the Kitco News website.
Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) vs. battery electric vehicles (BEV) – the precious metals industry is rightfully concerned about this battle. While FCEVs will utilize platinum in their fuel cells, BEVs need none, and each electric vehicle sold of either kind means that one less standard emission control catalyst has been sold. Reason for Reuters to inquire about the scale of the potential effects.
I sometimes feel like a doomsday prophet when I’m just tallying up statements and facts from people and governments in charge, that inevitably lead to one conclusion: electrification is near, and there is no sufficient hydrogen supply infrastructure to counter the expansion of electric charging.
Better to deal with the issue now than staring into an abyss a decade down the road. Precious metals, combined with rare earth elements and other “strategic” metals, are indispensable in making a sustainable planet a reality. So let’s focus on a vision for this world in 2040, and start working towards it.
To read a transcript of the Q&A session please click here.
Update: I just discovered the direct link to Reuter’s summary: click here to read.
Since the Hindenburg disaster, hydrogen has been known more for its risks than its uses as a fuel component. In its liquid form it has of course been used as rocket fuel, and more recently it has made an entrance as a potential alternative to lithium-ion batteries in cars. Not only is lithium-ion not free from hazards itself, the batteries also add more weight and volume to a device than a tank full of H2. Setting up a supply infrastructure remains an issue, and storage risks make people uncomfortable.
What if hydrogen could be produced in its metallic form? A metal, easy and safe to transport and store? What if this metal could be readily re-converted to its liquid state as needed to be used in fuel cells? A vision of a distant future, perhaps, but professor Isaac Silvera of Harvard University claims to have just taken the first step, the creation of metallic hydrogen. I had a very interesting conversation with him, the product of which was just published on Kitco News. Here is the link: http://www.kitco.com/commentaries/2017-03-21/Metallic-Hydrogen-a-New-Area-in-Hydrogen-Storage.html
Cobalt started coming into focus when the industry became aware of its crucial importance to lithium-ion technology. Since then, several Tech Metal Insider articles on Kitco News have dealt with the subject:
Cobalt – the secret ingredient in lithium ion batteries: https://bodoalbrecht.com/2015/10/02/cobalt-the-secret-ingredient-in-lithium-ion-batteries/
BYD (Build your Dreams) – cobalt vs iron oxide technology: https://bodoalbrecht.com/2016/04/28/byd-disrupting-the-markets-for-lithium-and-cobalt/
Ethical concerns on cobalt mining raised by Amnesty International: https://bodoalbrecht.com/2016/10/10/cobalt-prices-on-the-rise-amidst-ethical-concerns/
The latter topic in particular raised the question of ethical alternatives for cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that just declared it had to postpone democratic elections for lack of funds. One company promising such an alternative is Global Energy Metals of Vancouver, Canada. Mitchell Smith, president and CEO of GEM who is also a very active supporter of alternative energy in social media, told me more about the company and its plans. Click here to read the interview on Kitco News.
Nikola – Mr. Tesla’s first name, chosen not by chance, I suppose, as the name for the “other” electric car company completely focused on heavy duty trucks. Interestingly, although the cars are – strictly speaking – battery powered, Trevor Milton and his team chose to add a hydrogen fuel cell for clean charging, and range extension.
And it doesn’t stop there – Nikola Motors wants the hydrogen to be produced in sustainable ways, too, and is therefore building a network of solar farms across the country to do so.
Click here to read my interview with Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motors, on Kitco News.
As predicted a while ago, the world’s insatiable hunger for battery materials is beginning to affect prices, in a big way. The increase may not hurt small electronic devices as much but it will definitely be felt by buyers of electric vehicles which employ large amounts of the metal.
This good news turns sour for at least some investors, though, in light of new reports about unsafe conditions and child labor in the mines that produce cobalt. Please click here to read my full report on the topic, which was published by Kitco News today.
Critical Elements Corp. of Canada is adding a North American supply source of lithium and other strategic metals. Click here to read the full interview with Jean-François Meilleur produced for Kitco News.