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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Limiting factors: 2nd level factors that no one thinks of

The advent of evacuated glass tube technology in Solar thermal installations got me thinking on the factors that motivated this change from copper. The real reasons for this are actually quite simple. The cost of copper. Copper has become so expensive that companies are looking at any options that can replace it. This got me thinking of how vital copper is and how our entire electrical infrastructure is completely dependant on this element. It appears that most of the industrial processes as well as installations will come to a standstill without copper.
The scientific americal has the following to say
Copper is used in everything from automobiles to ordnance. Copper allows electricity to be generated, transported and conducted to the various outlets in a modern home. Copper is also relatively scarce compared to other metals like iron or aluminum that make up a good portion of the earth itself. So copper serves as an excellent metallic bellwether for potential future resource scarcity, according to a group of researchers who compiled data on its extraction, use, recycling and discard to estimate whether there is enough copper available to make a developed standard of living available to all the world's people. The short answer is: no.

Read the rest here.


  1. So in a 100 years our great grandkids will be back to relying on reading by candlelight again (thats if there is any wax around)...or we'll have moved out to mining the solar system...and generate more garbage...not enough to trash one planet eh? have to do the solar system too...what is the human race? the kings of trash?...

    More evidence that the entire 'empirical-scientific-technology-is-the-answer' rationale, that's been developed for the past 500 years, is reaching if not has reached end of life...

    "We need something new to get us through...oh yeah!" vive la Doors! :-)

    Of course, you could always argue that "with technological discoveries and their associated problems, man will create new technology solutions that solve the problems created by the discovered technology..." Robert Pirisg paraphrased - Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    But...its like one of those vicious incarnation creates a solution to a problem...the solution creates a problem...a solution is created for the new problem...which in turn creates fresh nauseum...hmmm...what's happening here?

    OK OK am going will rant on my own blog. :-)

  2. This has been the trend since the industrial revolution and i dont see anything changing. The key to the entire industrial revolution has been the increasingly sophisticated exploitation of easily accessible energy sources (oil principally and associated fossil fuels with hydro thrown in). Now that the low hanging fruit are gone, we have to hunker down and create better ways of exploiting other not so energy rich sources for the same.