Minerals make Memorial Day road trips

Posted on May 24, 2013 by Minerals Make Life

According to AAA, 31.2 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more to a beach, campground or another getaway this Memorial Day weekend.

With that many cars on the road, it is essential that we find a way to reduce emissions. Metals and minerals are actually key components in next generation vehicles that help reduce emissions in a variety of ways from limiting the smog-producing chemicals to contributing to higher fuel efficiency.

In fact, aluminum and magnesium help to lighten vehicle frames and according to MIT, every 10 percent reduction in a vehicle’s weight provides a 6 to 7 percent improvement in fuel economy, meaning less fuel consumption and lower emissions.

Platinum and palladium are critical components of a vehicle’s catalytic converter, which limit the  output of chemicals that come from burning gasoline. The exhaust passes through the catalytic converter that contains platinum and iridium. In just 0.1 to 0.4 seconds pollutants are processed, dramatically reducing the amount of pollutants entering the air. Platinum works by lowering the energy needed to cause these chemical changes.

Batteries made from lithium are increasingly used in hybrid vehicles as they are lighter than previous battery technology and hold a charge for a longer period of time. Even after years of service in an electric vehicle, lithium-ion batteries still have a lot to give. TreeHugger notes that because they can often still hold as much as 80 percent of the original power, these batteries can be reused as power storage for the grid.

While minerals play essential roles in reducing vehicle emissions, 75 percent of executives in the sector find scarcity a pressing issue according to a 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers worldwide study.

And this scarcity problem is only getting worse. Our import reliance is swelling every year. In 2000, the U.S. was 100 percent import reliant on 12 minerals and that number is quickly increased to 18, up from just seven minerals in 1978.

Minerals are not only important contributors on the road but also in our economy providing good jobs, in our domestic manufacturing industry providing critical raw materials and in the technologies important to our national defense. Without access to the resources we have at home, this scarcity will continue to negatively affect our industries and our everyday lives.

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