Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rhenium moves from Science Fiction to Aviation Week

Back in 1965 E.E. (Doc) Smith wrote "Subspace Explorers" a super science space opera.  In addition to much daring do and space warfare, it featured a super material with ten times the strength of good steel, made from the element rhenium.  As a holder of a PhD in chemistry, Smith knew rhenium was a scarce element, existing in little more than traces on earth.  He had his protagonists go prospecting in interstellar space and locate a far off planet rich in rhenium.
   That was then.  Now we have an article in Aviation Week reporting that the Chinese are placing orders for delivery of anywhere from 2 to 10 tons of rhenium a year, starting in 2016.  Rhenium (melting point 3182 C) improves the temperature resistance of nickel (melting point 1455 C) alloy jet engine turbine blades.  Five tons is estimated to be 10% of total world production. About 80% of rhenium production goes into jet engines, the rest makes catalysts for the chemical industry. 
   Rhenium is a byproduct of a byproduct.  Molybdenum is a byproduct of copper mining, and rhenium is found as an impurity in molybdenum.  The current price of rhenium ($3000 per kg)  is not far above the cost of the recovery process.  Increased demand could lead to vastly greater production, at a higher price, of course. 

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How slick is this? (From Commentary)

A junket to China by some US reporters.

Chinese Olympic spokesman: "Thanks to a range of measures, two thirds of the days in Beijing now have good air quality"

Outside the glass walled conference room smog was so thick that nearby buildings were visible only in outline.

US reporter, waving toward the windows: "Is this a good air day?"

Chinese spokesman: "It takes an expert to determine that."