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  • Writer's picturekirstycriticalmineral

The Royal Society of Chemistry & Critical Materials - Elements in Danger

Interview with Dr Karen Stroobants & Elisabeth Ratcliffe, The Royal Society of Chemistry

- We're trying to encourage people to think about critical raw materials in the same way they consider other resources.

The Critical Minerals Association's 'Perception of Mining Group' Chairs, Lucy Crane, Cornish Lithium & Ben Lepley, SRK Consulting did a brilliant interview with the Royal Society of Chemistry about their work on the circular economy and critical raw materials with:

  • Dr Karen Stroobants, Science Policy Unit Lead

  • Elisabeth Ratcliffe, News and Media Executive, leading on communications and thought leadership campaigns

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the UK's professional body for chemical scientists, supporting the chemistry community as a knowledge provider, trusted voice for chemistry and supporter of practicing chemists, teachers and students.

What is the 'Elements in Danger' campaign?

Sustainability is an important topic for the Royal Society of Chemistry. Focus on critical raw materials started in 2019 with the international year of the periodic table and they looked at how to make the elements interesting and why each element is special. Critical elements are really important for our personal technology, mobile phones, laptops.

The Royal Society of Chemistry did a survey asking people about their technology habits and found that there could be ~40 million unused devices sitting in drawers and gathering dust. The Elements in Danger campaign was launched to inform people what was in their personal technology and how they could recycle it. These materials are also needed in healthcare, future technologies, renewable energy, and we don't even know what they might be useful for in the future! They're looking to expand this campaign - not just looking at phones but also battery technologies and implications on climate change.

How can chemical sciences contribute to this critical raw material innovation revolution and the solutions that we're going to have to find for the energy transition?

  • Chemists can help look into substitution of critical raw materials, as well as extraction and metallurgy

  • Green chemistry can bring solutions for more sustainable mining. We won't be able to extract all of these materials from the circular economy and will continue to rely on mining in the future

  • Chemists can have a role as advisors in device design to improve the viability of recycling at the end stage

  • We also need more new research and innovation in order to extract more metals from recycling

What work are you doing to encourage the next generation to study STEM subjects?

The Royal Society of Chemistry have a 'Making a Difference' campaign to raise awareness of chemistry careers. Their survey found that secondary school students are very concerned about the environment. There's so much you can do with a chemistry background and many prospective careers with chemical sciences contribute to addressing major challenges facing our world!

Thank you Karen & Lizzy! Find out more about Royal Society of Chemistry's campaigns here:

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