Metals are the building blocks of civilization, produced by the ounce or the ton even as you read this page. (See inset.) We have broken down the metals into several categories.
Clean Tech Metals
We are most interested in the clean tech metals. These metals make possible the solar panels, wind turbines, and advanced batteries that are replacing established but wasteful industries.
Niobium and tantalum
The industrial metals are the ones most obvious to us as we look around our daily lives. Industrial metals are smelted and shaped in high volume to become the frameworks of buildings, the substance of packaging, and the guts of machinery. These metals represent the old, familiar technologies that may pollute or waste, but are well-entrenched.
Iron and Steel
The minor metals have established uses in small quantities, often as alloys and coatings for the industrial metals.
Rare earths are a set of 17 related metals that are critical for various clean tech and strategic purposes.