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View Diary: Superatoms: Cheap replacements for Platinum and Palladium? (175 comments)

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  •  of course if we were mining the asteroids (6+ / 0-)

    the way a truly intelligent species would be at our level of technological development, the platinum group metals would already be a hundred times cheaper than now.

    they're not really that scarce, they're just very scarce in the crusts of terrestrial planets since they mostly sunk to the core billions of years ago.  and of course, some people like them being scarce because that makes them lots of money.

    l'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers

    by zeke L on Sat Jan 02, 2010 at 10:43:50 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Not sure about cost (6+ / 0-)

      How expensive is mining platinum on asteroids; more to the point, how do you get large amounts of it back to the surface of the planet? That's got to be an expensive proposition.

      •  getting off of earth is the hard part (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cdreid, G2geek, linkage, Larsstephens

        (and the expensive part.)

        once you're there you have abundant energy (from the sun, around the clock) and it takes very little energy to move around.  

        putting the goodies in a transfer orbit back would be the next hardest part, but you could do that fairly simply with either a mass-driver or a kind of frying-an-ant-with-magnifying-glass arrangement. you concentrate sunlight on the surface until it vaporizes, get your vectors lined up, and you start moving. once you're back at earth a little aerobraking and a heatshield/parachute arrangement like the apollo capsules had gets you down to the surface. the hardest part is building the robots and doing the math, and math is cheap.

        actually, the biggest worry for people who have looked into this is bringing too much platinum back--they're worried about crashing the market and thus diminishing their payback.

        l'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers

        by zeke L on Sat Jan 02, 2010 at 12:06:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  In addition to the above response (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxado, No one gets out alive

        We wont know til we begin really mapping near space. Its quite likely there are giant rocks of every mineral you can imagine floating out there. Imagine a 5 mile long asteroid being "eaten" by tiny near-self-replicating robots and then a mass driver shooting the high density ore to a processor that captures them using metallic netting also produced from space-ore. Which uses solar energy and centrifical force to turn the metals into ingots which are further processed to make materials to build more machinery including smart engineless shuttles that ship the material to earth.

        Asking just about anyone to comprehend just how huge the space-industrial revolution will be is like asking an amazon warrior to comprehend the industrial revolution. The change is going to be mindblowing and the potential increase in human wealth is near infinite. PEOPLE will become the worlds most valuable commodity again.

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