Did you know the Department of Defense uses 750,000 tons of minerals annually? Metals are a vital part of national security. Aside from this, we depend on metals daily when we use technology.
These technology metals give us our electronics, batteries, electricity, and high-tech defense weapons. Continue reading to learn about 10 essential metals that our society relies on.
There are many uses of copper in everyday life. Copper generates electricity, so you can find it in your cell phone’s circuit board and pretty much any electronic circuit board. Construction sites often use copper wiring and pipes for plumbing.
In vehicles, the metal is in radiators, motors, bearings, and brakes. You can also have gutters and roofing made from copper because of how slowly it corrodes.
Because it’s corrosion-resistant, copper is widely used to build military naval vessels, aircraft, and ships. Copper is a malleable metal. Military body armor can be made with a mix of copper, nickel, and lead.
Another conductor of electricity, gold is also found in phone circuit boards. It’s malleable like copper and many of its uses are as an alloy rather than pure gold. The metal is commonly combined with platinum, copper, or silver.
Dentists can give patients gold fillings. Gold salt is a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
Gold is important in aerospace engineering. A gold layer on the outside of spacecraft reflects harmful rays and keeps temperatures stable on the inside. Astronauts’ visors have a gold layer to protect them from the sun.
Lead is mostly used for car batteries and other batteries. It’s also the reason we have smartphones. The metal solders all the phone parts together.
Lead is great for casting because it has a low melting point. Many kinds of ammunition are made of lead.
Aluminum is not only the most abundant mineral on Earth, but it’s also found in a variety of things we use every day. The metal is desirable because it’s durable, malleable, and light.
There’s a good chance you cook with aluminum pots and pans. You definitely have aluminum in your car or truck. Planes and trains also contain this metal.
A well-known use of aluminum is aluminum foil. Many phone cases have aluminum in them.
View here a compound of aluminum that’s used in manufacturing cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
This metal has an irreplaceable position in steel production. Its oxidizing properties stop steel from rusting.
Manganese makes up 1% of steel, which doesn’t seem significant. However, the metal makes steel stronger, harder, and resistant to rust.
Beverage cans are aluminum alloys that contain a small percentage of manganese. The metal’s job is to, again, prevent corrosion.
Pure manganese doesn’t have any other uses because it’s so brittle.
You’ll find nickel in circuit board plates for cell phones and batteries. Nickel maintains its corrosion resistance at extreme temperatures and plates other metals as protection.
The most common use of nickel is in stainless steel and other alloys. These alloys are found in places such as jet engines, chemical plants, and petroleum refineries.
Many prosthetic limbs are made of a nickel-titanium alloy. Nickel is also used in armor plating.
The main reason platinum is essential is that it acts as a catalyst for various chemical reactions. One of these reactions reduces toxic emissions from vehicles.
Other resulting substances are found in drugs, vegetable oils, plastics, and fertilizers. The petroleum industry uses this metal as a catalyst.
Surgical tools can be made from platinum alloys. It’s one of the metals that coat electrodes in electronic devices.
Similar to nickel, zinc is used to prevent other metals from corroding. You can thank this metal for protecting cars, trucks, ships, and buildings from rusting. Zinc is also part of an alloy that makes airplanes.
Many products you use daily are manufactured with zinc oxide: electronics (circuit boards), soap, sunscreen, batteries, rubber, ink, drugs, makeup, paint, and even more.
Circuit boards of electronics are made with silver as are batteries. Silver ions and compounds are involved in the process of purifying water. They kill algae, fungi, and bacteria.
Silver can also sanitize medical devices and is found in creams and wound dressing. Dental fillings can be silver.
Silver nitrate treats halitosis (bad breath), teeth caries, gingivitis, and burns on the skin. The stick form of this compound can remove warts and cauterize wounds.
Rechargeable batteries and some circuit board plates are made with cobalt. The metal is vital for hybrid or electric automobiles.
Aircraft engines and gas turbines contain alloys that include cobalt. The metal can make roof tiles and vitamin B-12.
The medical field uses cobalt for some treatments of cancer. It can also be a medical tracer or to sterilize medical instruments.
Doctors have to use a radioactive isotope of cobalt instead of regular cobalt. This cobalt isotope works because it’s a source of gamma rays. It’s not radioactive enough to cause harm.
An alloy called Alnico is made of cobalt, nickel, and aluminum. It’s a very strong magnet used in manufacturing microphones, hearing aids, and compasses.
Essential Metals for Technology
These technology metals have an array of applications in multiple industries. All of them are also useful in alloys or as another form, such as a compound or isotope.
The military, automobile industry, aircraft industry, aerospace industry, medical field, construction sites, and many other manufacturers rely on metals. Without them, our economy and technological advancement would decline.
Society depends on these 10 essential metals every day.
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