Deep Sea Rocks Could Be The Secret To Powering Our Mobile Devices

Deep Sea Rocks Could Be The Secret To Powering Our Mobile Devices
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Rare earth metals that can be used in smartphones and tablets are discovered on the ocean floor.

Tiffany Nesbit
  • 21 april 2014

If you’ve ever left the house without your phone, you have an idea of how dependent we have become on these devices. What you may not know is that the screen, circuitry, and speakers of your phone are made out of Yttrium, Praseodymium, and Dysprosium– rare earth metals that are becoming scarce, while mobile phones and tablets becomes more in-demand. Fortunately, geochemists in Germany may have discovered an alternative- deep sea rocks.

Lumps of iron and magnesium, called ferromanganese nodules, are all over the ocean floor. They build up slowly over time as iron and magnesium becomes dissolved in sea water debris. Other metals, including earth metals, then become attached to the nodules. German geochemists discovered that if they applied the solvent Desferal to the lumps of ferromanganese, they are able to extract up to 80 percent of the earth metals, allowing them to be stored and repurposed. In addition to mobile devices, earth metals can be used for solar panels and wind turbines.

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