TECH 'New' periodic table shows endangered elements

TECH

'New' periodic table shows endangered elements

Pan Zhaoyi | CGTN

16:47, January 30, 2019

The European Chemical Society (EuChemS), a group representing more than 160,000 chemists in the European Union, published a new version of the periodic table days before the 150th anniversary of the original table on January 29.

Unlike the old version with 118 known natural and synthetic elements, the new chart was designed to show the remaining availability of some 90 elements and their vulnerability, as well as highlighting the scarcity of some of the them due to the demand for electronics.

Elements in the new version are exhibited in different space sizes and colors, emphasizing how much remains of an element and how long we have before they"re depleted.

The 90 natural elements that make up everything. (Photo from EuChemS)

The elements in red show face serious threat in the next 100 years, while the ones marked in orange are threatened if use increases. Those in green are so far relatively safe because of the plentiful supply.

According to EuChemS president David Cole-Hamilton, the new table is also an important reminder of which of Earth"s elements are in danger of disappearing, due to human overuse.

In today"s digital era, the iteration of electronic devices has been in an ever fast speed. Scientists estimated that around 10 million smartphones are discarded or replaced every month in the European Union alone.

An interesting thing we can notice from the new chart is the phone-like white icon, elements with the icon on it mean they are being used to manufacture the electronic devices.

Smartphones are made up of around 30 elements, over half of which face depletion in upcoming years because of increasing scarcity, they said.

As a major component to make the touch screen of our smartphones and tablets, Indium, for example, ‍could soon dry up if we continue chucking out our old devices every few years, since the world"s indium supply is "extremely thinly spread" across the planet, Cole-Hamilton said.

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