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posted by janrinok on Sunday November 24 2019, @06:23AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the makes-sense-for-Brazil dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Brazil is the world's largest producer of niobium and holds about 98 percent of the active reserves on the planet. This chemical element is used in metal alloys, especially high-strength steel, and in an almost unlimited array of high-tech applications from cell phones to aircraft engines. Brazil exports most of the niobium it produces in the form of commodities such as ferroniobium.

Another substance Brazil also has in copious quantities but underuses is glycerol, a byproduct of oil and fat saponification in the soap and detergent industry, and of transesterification reactions in the biodiesel industry. In this case the situation is even worse because glycerol is often discarded as waste, and proper disposal of large volumes is complex.

A study performed at the Federal University of the ABC (UFABC) in São Paulo State, Brazil, combined niobium and glycerol in a promising technological solution to the production of fuel cells. An article describing the study, entitled "Niobium enhances electrocatalytic Pd activity in alkaline direct glycerol fuel cells," is published in ChemElectroChem and featured on the cover of the journal.

"In principle, the cell will work like a glycerol-fueled battery to recharge small electronic devices such as cell phones or laptops. It can be used in areas not covered by the electricity grid. Later the technology can be adapted to run electric vehicles and even to supply power to homes. There are unlimited potential applications in the long run," chemist Felipe de Moura Souza, first author of the article told. Souza has a direct doctorate scholarship from São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP.

More information: Filipe M. Souza et al, Niobium Enhances Electrocatalytic Pd Activity in Alkaline Direct Glycerol Fuel Cells, ChemElectroChem (2019). DOI: 10.1002/celc.201901254


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 24 2019, @08:42AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 24 2019, @08:42AM (#924122)
    Given that 98% of Niobium is mined in Brazil, worldwide use of such fuel cells is not expected - Brazil could ask any price for the material, supplies of which they control. Furthermore, it's not wise to waste the rare metal on trivial things like batteries.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 24 2019, @08:49AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 24 2019, @08:49AM (#924124)
    • (Score: 2) by Mojibake Tengu on Sunday November 24 2019, @09:48AM (1 child)

      by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Sunday November 24 2019, @09:48AM (#924133) Journal

      Brazil could ask any price for the material, supplies of which they control.

      No, they can't. If that happens, a regime change would be suddenly imminent.
      Good new-fashioned model example of this is lithium in Bolivia.

      --
      The edge of 太玄 cannot be defined, for it is beyond every aspect of design
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Sunday November 24 2019, @01:37PM

        by bzipitidoo (4388) on Sunday November 24 2019, @01:37PM (#924160) Journal

        No such political upheaval is needed. If the price of any rare earth element rises, a whole bunch more mines become profitable, and will quickly open or reopen.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25 2019, @02:31AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25 2019, @02:31AM (#924366)

      They still have to compete with other technologies. If their prices are too high it would make other technologies, existing technologies (and advancements thereof) more attractive. They have to charge a price that makes what they have to offer advantageous to the alternatives.

  • (Score: 2) by Bot on Sunday November 24 2019, @08:23PM (1 child)

    by Bot (3902) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 24 2019, @08:23PM (#924255) Journal

    We have already witnessed noobium used as catalyst in those cells decorated with Windows.

    --
    Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25 2019, @04:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25 2019, @04:44PM (#924567)

      Are noob cannons [urbandictionary.com] made of noobium?

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