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Issue 21, 2012
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Addressing the terawatt challenge: scalability in the supply of chemical elements for renewable energy

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Abstract

The energy infrastructure for fossil fuels is well-established, accounting for approximately 87% of the 16 TW of power consumed globally. For renewable and sustainable energy conversion technologies to play a relevant role at the terrestrial scale, they must be able to scale to the TW level of deployment. This would place a significant demand on the current and future supply of raw materials (chemical elements) used by those technologies. Oftentimes, the average crustal abundance of a chemical element is cited as a measure of its scalability, however another important metric for scalability is the existence (of lack thereof) of mineable ores with a high concentration of the targeted element. This paper aims to provide an overview of the availability of all elements. This is accomplished via a compilation of data for global primary production rates for each element, as a measure of availability at the present time. This work also addresses the potential future availability based on current and possible future primary sources.

Graphical abstract: Addressing the terawatt challenge: scalability in the supply of chemical elements for renewable energy

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Publication details

The article was received on 24 Feb 2012, accepted on 29 May 2012 and first published on 01 Jun 2012


Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C2RA20839C
Citation: RSC Adv., 2012,2, 7933-7947
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    Addressing the terawatt challenge: scalability in the supply of chemical elements for renewable energy

    P. C. K. Vesborg and T. F. Jaramillo, RSC Adv., 2012, 2, 7933
    DOI: 10.1039/C2RA20839C

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