In the following text, we present the concept behind Sci-fi Miners.
João Martinho Moura. June 2019.
Full publication available soon.
More information about the ‘Sci-fi Miners’ work here.
The reason we are naming this work ‘Sci-fi Miners’ is purely conceptual, imaginative, reminding brave explorers discovering and facing unknown worlds, looking for new spheres of research, and trying to solve human problems, as the alchemists of medieval Europe that employed water and fire to change the optical, chemical, and physical properties of materials . Natural resources, like critical metals, especially rare platinum group metals (PMGs), are essential and used for heterogeneous and electrochemical catalysis. As 90% of things (goods) we use in our societies is produced by catalysis, humans depend strongly on these natural resources. Currently, many countries are profoundly dependent on the mining industry to obtain these materials, relevant for fuel cells, storage of renewable energy, and for pollutant emissions control. There are indeed studies and plans to extract those resources in outer space, in the moon and asteroids, to fulfill the need of current consumer and economic trends on Earth.
Humans depend strongly on catalysis. And catalysis is dependent on Platinum Group Metals. PGM belongs to the so-called Critical Raw Materials – becoming rare on earth . PMGs provides clean and sustainable energy technologies, an important value for us and future generations. Earth is immensely large, but as these materials are only found underground, hard to obtain, we will soon enter the risk of supply in the next decades. We should worry about natural resources running out, and these rare materials should be replaced by something abundant on the Earth. This is the aim of CritCat project. Nowadays we can extract a few grams of platinum per ton of rock. Latest EU reports say that in 15 years, platinum group metals will not be sufficient to fulfill current society consumer trends . Urgency is the word we find for this research. That is why this work’s name is Sci-fi Miners (referring to the researchers), once the extraction of those rare materials is currently made by the mining industry, large economic groups, in deep caves located in a small number of regions in the world, in very low concentrations. Also, resource extraction is responsible for half the world’s carbon emissions .