This Appalachian coal is said to have over 300ppm of rare earth oxides in it.
That means for every ton of coal, we're talking about 300g of material. Compare conventional rare earth ores, where for every ton, we're talking about 90kg (Mountain Pass).
It's nice and all that these things are in coal, but thermal coal's already on its way out, Appalachian thermal coal especially due to its high cost and high sulfur content, and a couple pennies of rare earths per ton is a worse use of resources than Powder River coal + actual rare earth mining.
I don’t know whether there’s 1000 times as much coal available as rare-earth ores, but it might skew the argument a little compared to 100x.
The real limiting factors are throughput and cost of ore processing.
If the process can be done economically at the rate of production, it will be implemented. Even if it barely brakes even in terms of finances, it also helps with A) stopping rare earth metals from going airborne (which is a health hazard sometimes) and B) Creating a strategic backup source of rare earth metals and C) Preventing further environmental damage from additional mining for rare earth metals elsewhere.
So if you process it all and get high extraction, a couple million Kg of rare earths a year.
(I edited the last paragraph after spotting that I missed a factor in my initial math)
- what happens to the carbon from this process? Does it end up as atmospheric CO2?
- what happens to the energy available from that carbon? Thrown away or used to run the process?
- can't you just run this on fly ash?
- how does this compare to regular mining?
- what happens to everything else in the coal, such as sulphur and thorium?
It sounds like it is only going to consume byproduct of the washing process.
There aren’t a lot of rare earths in coal/fly ash but even modest coal plants produce tons of fly ash daily.
Most British houses have two layers of brick, the nice ones on the outside, and these ones on the inside, which will be covered. An air (or fibreglass) gap between them provides insulation.
Also curious if anyone can to weigh in on how this might affect China's (supposed) rare earth monopoly, since I presume that was part of the motivation behind the research. Same thing for the coal industry in general.
It could be a carbon source for a new type of terra preta.
It would even be useful for the high-sulfur coals.
If the coal has no economic uses for energy production, but the mining has some reason to happen anyway, where the coal itself becomes a by-product, turning it into agricultural soil wouldn't be entirely horrible. The heavy metals would probably have to be removed before disposing of it anyway.
But I see that mchannon answered my question, with the answer I expected
The coal industry may want, but like everyone else they're not guaranteed relevance in the long term. Going out of business is capitalism's way of saying your product is no longer required.
This is pedantic to the point of wilfully not wanting to understand that the coal industry is implied with that statement. But if we're going down the pedantic route:
> Going out of business is capitalism's way of saying your product is no longer required.
Demand and need are correlated, but not the same. Capitalism works with the former, and also has an entire industry devoted to creating demand when there is no need. I'm not saying capitalism is bad - it is an amoral system and a very effective tool for a lot of things. By itself self-regulates only to the vested interests of the people wielding the tools within the capitalist system, and this does not have to align with societal or planetary needs.
Democratic systems these days are not followed, they are moulded.
However, at the end of the day it won't matter. Advertising is available to all companies, we end up with a tug of war over peoples attentions, which will probably result in advertising becoming ineffective.
No, there is no debate. No one seriously argues that companies pour half a trillion dollars into advertising that doesn't work.
> However, at the end of the day it won't matter. Advertising is available to all companies, we end up with a tug of war over peoples attentions, which will probably result in advertising becoming ineffective.
It does matter. If the tug of war is between two companies that want you to buy their version of X, there is still no one advertising that you should not buy X at all. This is known as growing the market. Demand is still created in this case.
It's at least not a new thought. Mostly though I'm skeptical that advertising is subverting capitalism.
Is demand created though? How do you know that some people weren't just unaware of the product before, and would have gladly bought it had they known of it.
Because not buying something is the easiest, and default position.
Advertising is also part of the capitalism chain. Companies demand advertising, so it exists.
> Is demand created though? How do you know that some people weren't just unaware of the product before, and would have gladly bought it had they known of it.
You're describing creating demand. Someone didn't want something because they didn't know it existed. Now they want it. This is the most effective advertising possible.
> Because not buying something is the easiest, and default position.
Ok? If you exit the default position because you saw an ad, the ad worked.
Because the core principles of Capitalism could function without advertising, I think this is incorrect.
The main point I was trying to make was that advertising does not remove the inherent Democratic component of Capitalism.
> You're describing creating demand. Someone didn't want something because they didn't know it existed. Now they want it. This is the most effective advertising possible.
The advertiser didn't really create the demand though, it existed before them?
However, I don't think that advertising is enough to remove the democratic component from capitalism.
If you want a perfect example of this, go back to the start of modern advertising and look up the phrase "Torches Of Freedom" and Edward Bernays.
In what way did this harm democracy? Cigarettes are dying off, because of scientific discoveries, if anything this demonstrates my point.
And capitalism has no speech capacity.
If you’re going to be pedantic to the point of abrasiveness, at least don’t use the same shorthand you are criticizing.
Before the plants decayed, they pulled up all manner of minerals from soil. Rare earths behave similarly to iron, so if a plant can uptake iron from its soil (it can) then so can it uptake rare earths.
There are numerous instances of field reclamation from mercury contamination specifically by use of plants to leach the mercury from the soil, then harvest, burn, and safely dispose of the mercury concentrate.
Same story as this except the latter occurs in a human lifetime, and we want the mercury out of the soil for fundamentally different reasons.