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Why is Iridium Considered a Strategic Metal?

In the labyrinthine world of metals and minerals, few elements command as much fascination and strategic allure as iridium. Nestled within the platinum group, iridium emerges as a beacon of rarity, resilience, and revolutionary potential. As we embark on a journey to unravel the enigma of iridium, we uncover a tale woven with scarcity, resilience, and innovation.

Scarce and Resilient:

Iridium’s journey begins with its scarcity, a defining characteristic that places it among the rarest elements on Earth. With an occurrence of a mere 0.000003 parts per million in the Earth’s crust, iridium occupies a realm of scarcity reserved for the most coveted of elements. Yet, its scarcity belies its resilience. A very hard, brittle, and dense metal, iridium boasts mechanical properties perfectly suited to withstand the rigors of modern high-temperature gasoline-burning engines. In an era defined by stringent emissions standards, iridium emerges as a stalwart ally, enabling the pursuit of cleaner and more efficient automotive technologies.

Catalyzing Green Innovation:

Amidst the pressing challenges of climate change, iridium assumes a newfound significance as a catalyst for green innovation. At the forefront of this transformation is the burgeoning realm of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers, poised to revolutionize the production of green hydrogen. As the world pivots towards a lower greenhouse gas emissions footprint, iridium emerges as a linchpin in this transition, supplying the critical infrastructure needed to scale up PEM electrolyzers and unlock the promise of clean energy.

Meeting the Demand:

Yet, as demand for iridium surges, the specter of scarcity looms large. With an estimated 6.5-8.3 metric tons mined annually, iridium finds itself at the crossroads of supply and demand. The manufacture of spark plugs alone consumes 1.5 metric tons each year, with little recourse for recycling at the end of their lifecycle. Looking ahead, projections paint a stark picture of escalating demand, with estimates suggesting a requirement of twelve metric tons by 2030 to meet the burgeoning needs of PEM manufacturing.

A Call to Action:

In the face of this mounting demand, the imperative for collective action becomes unmistakable. As an industry, we stand at a pivotal juncture, tasked with charting a course towards sustainability and resilience. By embracing the principles of circularity and resource stewardship, we have the power to alleviate the strain on iridium reserves and forge a path towards a more sustainable future.

In conclusion, the story of iridium is one of scarcity, resilience, and boundless potential. As we navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving world, the strategic importance of iridium serves as a poignant reminder of our collective responsibility to safeguard the finite resources of our planet and chart a course towards a brighter tomorrow.

RESOURCES

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