Throughout the workshop, speakers made general observations about the issues associated with critical materials and the role of the chemical sciences in addressing those issues. These observations are gathered in this final chapter to capture the broad themes emerging from the workshop. These themes should not be seen as consensus conclusions of the workshop and are associated here with the speaker who made that observation.
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7 General Observations Throughout the workshop, speakers made general obser- • Governmental policies also have a major influence on vations about the issues associated with critical materials criticality, including policies on domestic production and the role of the chemical sciences in addressing those and processing, stockpiling, education, and diplomacy. issues. These observations are gathered in this final chapter (Bauer) to capture the broad themes emerging from the workshop. • Even if the price of a critical material is a small fraction These themes should not be seen as consensus conclusions of of a catalyst, supply constraints can interfere with that the workshop and are associated here with the speaker who application of the material. (Stevens) made that observation. • Research can reduce or eliminate the use of a critical material in a catalyst and thereby reduce or eliminate • The level of criticality for a material depends on the effects of price or supply disruptions. (Chen) many factors, including physical availability, cost, • Replacing expensive metals with inexpensive metals in importance in use, supply risk, concentration within a catalysts can produce significant savings and be more country, coproduction, potential for substitution, and environmentally benign. (Bullock) environment and social concerns. (Eggert) • Even in long-established applications like automotive • The level of criticality for a material can change over catalytic converters, continued research can reduce time as the factors affecting criticality change. (Eggert) the demand for precious metals, even where com- • The importance of these factors differs from one mate- plete replacement of those metals is not yet feasible. rial or element to another. (Eggert) (Lambert) • Different groups have different definitions of critical • Proven reserves of rare earths are growing rapidly, and materials depending on their needs and circumstances. one solution to tight supplies is to increase mining. (Eggert) (Shinar) • Markets respond to both supply and demand signals • Demand for some critical materials will soar if the but with time lags. (Eggert) world acquires a significant fraction of its energy from • Government has an essential role to play in pushing photovoltaics. (Zweibel) for undistorted international trade, streamlining regu- • Resources constraints could be a critical factor in the lation, facilitating the collection and dissemination of development of grid-scale energy storage technolo- information, and facilitating research and develop- gies. (Bradwell) ment. (Eggert) • Issues that need to be considered in establishing • The chemical sciences have an important influence on critical materials policies include trade restrictions, the critical materials through research and development extended times needed to develop new technologies, involving substitution, improvements in extraction costs, and environmental impacts. (Whitacre) and recovery, and improvements in manufacturing and recycling. (Eggert) 45
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