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Mydesign
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Re: New ways of looking at an old problem
Mydesign   5/1/2012 4:59:49 AM
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Beth, there are enough rare earth metals are available in China. They are possessing about 85% of the total availability. If China is willing to open up their market for international customers/companies, most of the problem may get resolved.

Charles Murray
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Re: New Sources of Rare Earths
Charles Murray   4/30/2012 5:17:22 PM
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I suspect that transporting tons of raw materials back to earth will be a lot more costly than transporting them from under the ocean -- unforeseen difficulties are sure to play an economic role there. Still, I agree with you that our taste for high-tech will one day make asteroid mining a reality.

Charles Murray
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Re: New ways of looking at an old problem
Charles Murray   4/30/2012 5:12:23 PM
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I agree, Beth. This is a great story of innovation in the face of economic necessity -- a great example of the old saying, "It's not what you have, it's what you do with it."

Rob Spiegel
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Re: New Sources of Rare Earths
Rob Spiegel   4/30/2012 2:22:15 PM
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Interesting idea, William. This is the basis of the Alien movie series, that space travel will essentially be based on mining. That may be the case. Yet, given our gains in creating sophisticated robot technology, the mining missions may not involve humans.

naperlou
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Re: New ways of looking at an old problem
naperlou   4/30/2012 10:42:04 AM
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Kristin, That is a great point.  In solving a material problem in the near term you set yourself up for even more effeciencies when that material comes down in price. 

Kristin Lewotsky
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Re: New ways of looking at an old problem
Kristin Lewotsky   4/30/2012 10:19:24 AM
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Hi Beth,

The interesting thing to me about this work is that NovaTorque initially started out working with rare-Earth magnets and only tried the technology on ferrite magnets after rare-Earth pricing got out of hand. whatthat means is that in a few years, when new sources come online and the price of rare-Earth materials drops, NovaTorque can take what they've learned and begin making rare-Earth versions of their design, which could create uber-high-performance motorseven more compact and conventional rare-Earth versions.

williamlweaver
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Platinum
New Sources of Rare Earths
williamlweaver   4/30/2012 9:50:53 AM
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I know many folks are poking fun at the idea of a push to asteroid mining, but as our high-tech gadgets require more and more high-tech materials that are becoming more and more scarce, looking off-world for new supplies sounds like a logical next step. It also beats the heck out of our entire technical workforce generating new mobile apps for their entire career...

Beth Stackpole
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New ways of looking at an old problem
Beth Stackpole   4/30/2012 6:54:25 AM
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To me, the message here is that innovation isn't just about coming up with the next new technology idea, but also being creative enough to see there can be novel approaches to old problems. The rare earth shortages are likely to continue for some time. This is a great example of deft engineering and being able to shift gears to another way of problem solving when something stands in your way.

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