About the blog: What Things Are Made Of
AMERICA'S GLOBAL DEPENDENCY FOR NEARLY EVERYTHING
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Thanks to all for your interest and support!
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Europium, discovered in 1890 and named for Europe, has been used mostly as the red phosphor in television tubes. Appropriately, paper euros include europium-based pigments as an anti-counterfeiting device. US postage stamps have used fluorescent europium as well, and it helps make some lasers and medical screening machines.
Like all the rare earths, europium comes mostly from Bayan Obo, China, the deposit that yields most of the world’s rare earths today. China’s largest rare-earth producer, Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-tech Co., Ltd., had a 2008 capacity of 250,000 tons of rare earths. Only 120 tons was europium. Its price in 2008 was $1,200 per kilogram ($545 per pound), the third most expensive rare earth after lutetium and thulium.
Monday, February 7, 2011
|Diamond in matrix. USGS photo.|
And guess what? China is the leading supplier of such diamonds to the US, and the US, as expected, is among the world’s greatest consumers of industrial diamonds. The US produces only about 127 million carats of industrial diamond, which sounds like a lot, but not in comparison to that 4-billion-carat gorilla, China. The US imports more than 500 million carats, 63% from China. The few natural industrial diamonds imported come from Africa, largely Botswana, but 93% of US industrial diamonds are synthetic.
Where do they go? Tiny dies for creating thin, light-bulb-filament wires, drill bits that find oil and gas, and computer chips all use industrial diamonds. But the vast majority go to a mundane use: stone and concrete cutting, mostly in the road-building and repair industry.
So as you motor down the highway, think about those Chinese synthetic diamonds. They helped find the oil to make the gasoline in your tank, and they help make the road beds upon which you drive.
Photo: Diamond in matrix. From USGS.