Minerals and Society

Building Our World

Do you use roads or buildings? Most of us use them every day. They are parts of our infrastructure. We use concrete to build strong buildings and asphalt to build roads. But what are concrete and asphalt made of? The answer is crushed stone, gravel, and sand. We don’t often think about them, but crushed stone, gravel, and sand are important mineral resources. According to the United States Geological Survey, the USA used about 1.47 billion metric tons of crushed stone and 110 million tons of sand and gravel in 2018. That is as much as 600 million cubic meters of stuff, enough to fill over 600 baseball stadiums. How exactly do we use crushed stone, gravel, and sand to make concrete?

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The Future of Energy

Many people want to use less gas and oil to make the energy we use. This means we will need to use many different mineral resources. While copper and aluminum wires carry electricity to our homes, other mineral resources help us generate that electricity. One wind turbine can contain enough copper to make over 500 battery-powered electric vehicles. Blades made of quartz composite allow us to make larger and more efficient wind turbines. Solar cells use many different minerals. Many use silicon. Thin-film solar cells use Tellurium. Research into other solar technologies uses other mineral resources, like perovskite and copper-indium-gallium-diselenide. These mineral resources are bringing us closer to a green energy future. What is copper-indium-gallium-diselenide?

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Personal Technology

Smart devices do many things for us. They help us go places. They help us find answers. They help us stay healthy. And they help us stay connected to each other, no matter where on earth we are. One in six Americans wears a smartwatch every day. That is more than 28 million people. More than 60% of us carry our smartphones every day. A smartphone has over 13 different minerals in it. The more smart devices we use, the more mineral resources we will need. What minerals are in a smartphone?

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