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lughnasadh OP t1_jah29e6 wrote

Submission Statement

"This system is expected to become economically feasible in the near future, as the demand and market prices for REEs are likely to rise significantly in the coming years"

It will be interesting to see what price this can be commercialized at. One of the themes of the 2020s is supply-chain security, and China being the dominant source for so many critical elements is a vulnerability. The EU has billions of €'s in funding set aside for circular economy initiatives. Bringing this to market seems a strong contender for that support.


Sumfuc t1_jahatc2 wrote

Anything that gets the world away from reliance on China is preferable. Leverage is even more crucial than ever.


AGVann t1_jaheld4 wrote

The reason why China is the major source of rare earth minerals isn't necessarily the fact that China has most of the ore - the US and Australia also have huge reserves - it's the fact that the cost of extraction is very low in China due to low labour costs and crucially the lack of environmental regulations.

In China, the extremely toxic tailings from the ore processing and refining are just dumped into the countryside, creating heavy polluted hellscapes that will probably remained poisoned for thousands of years. This saves so much money that it makes almost all other rare earth operations unprofitable. Here's a gnarly video of the tailings lake at Baotou, China's rare earth mineral capital.

Regardless of the politics, this new development could be a very welcome change for the environment.


The-Protomolecule t1_jahpi3k wrote

It should be noted, as with oil, the US policy on this stuff is to be the last country with reserves.

Edit: In case it’s unclear, the US prefers to import oil and precious metals instead of digging ours up first. It’s not ONLY environmental or cost, though these are significant factors. We can always extract finite resources in the future when other countries have sold theirs or during wartime.


jsteph67 t1_jahx6wz wrote

Not sure why you are being downvoted. It makes sense in the long term, to think long term.


findingdumb t1_jaj8vfw wrote

Because some people still believe the US is the good guys


pbrand t1_jajcwbj wrote

Bit of a daft point when the US is a net food exporter (depleting its topsoil in the process) and also recently due to a certain European war exports a lot of liquid natural gas. The US strategically holds on to some things, and sells others, just like any other country.

China's hoarded flour and grain the past couple years, and I do not blame them in childish baffling terms such as "good guys" and "bad guys." That's fucking comic book shit. Keep it there.


Dantheking94 t1_jakq5y1 wrote

China has to hoard food and grain…a population like theirs within such a large country that doesn’t have enough arable land to support itself…they can’t risk starvation.


findingdumb t1_jajinu6 wrote

If you don't think the US is an active evil, you're either uninformed, misinformed, or a fucking moron.


bigmac419 t1_jajob9h wrote

Every country is an active evil in someone's narrative. Just depends on who they're paid by.


Information_High t1_jajwbjd wrote

An active evil compared to whom?

Be specific, please. Which countries are better?


cowet t1_jak01an wrote

They like the USSR and china lol


AGVann t1_jal27nm wrote

As a Taiwanese person that would be in a mass grave or a concentration camp next to some Uyhurs right now if it wasn't for the US, I'll take an American world order over a Chinese one, thanks.


mellowfortherecords t1_jak9j2s wrote

Why saying US is evil means saying Russia is good? Both search their own benefit. In some ways Russia is worse than US and in others US is worse than Russia.


The-Protomolecule t1_jajzg8d wrote

How does anything I said make the US the good guys? It’s irrelevant to my post about long term resource scarcity planning. If anything it makes the US the bad guys lol.


Dje4321 t1_jak0wei wrote

The US understands that you can only beat your enemy by simply having more than them.


JediSwaggins t1_jal98rw wrote

At some point, they can't take you out or it creates a power vacuum they'll kill themselves fighting over anyway.

Don't @ me this is mostly my headcanon if the USA was a mob boss


VentureQuotes t1_jax099f wrote

this is a fascinating way to look at it, i never heard of this before. can you say more about this? would love to see what government agencies, corporations, academic say about this


watduhdamhell t1_jahn91u wrote

It's not just lack of environmental regulations.

It's the lack of environmental, labor, safety, and health regulations.


leoyoung1 t1_jaj9xo3 wrote

So much for being the government for the people. China isn't even remotely communist. It's just a fascist dictatorship in smug clothing.


tanstaafl90 t1_jajag40 wrote

Authoritarian is the word you are looking for.


leoyoung1 t1_jajsslk wrote

Could be. The guys at the top are raking in the loot...


tanstaafl90 t1_jajys0n wrote

That's how authoritarian states operate, regardless of their political rhetoric. It's the concentration of power in the hands of a few or individual that demands submission to that authority at the cost of individual freedom. Both fascism and communism as witnessed in the 20th century can comfortably fit under the header of authoritarian.


Seen_Unseen t1_jala571 wrote

Like it or not the West has been exporting these problems to China for decades and China gladly accepted that in return for dollars. We are offshoring our pollution at a scale that nobody likes to talk about. Hence why it's so important when we talk about environmental sustainability that we include the global cost of pollution into products. That way it might be interesting to onshore rare elements mining or vice versa China gets forced to work more sustainable. It's a win-win eitherway, though what we do now both the West and China is literally raping our planet.


Tarynxm t1_jahrxa3 wrote

Interestingly, 2019 study showed that the process was potentially for environmental remediation of toxic heavy metals as well as REE: “Among the various microorganisms studied, also cyanobacterial strains proved to be highly capable to biosorb and accumulate dissolved (heavy) metals as well as REE.” Suggesting that the process could, in addition to pulling out REE from industrial waste spilled into the Rhine River, help bioremediation of other sites, presumably including the whole interconnected biosphere. So all countries could use it to help the planet- even toxic mine tailings flowing into China’s waterways could be tackled. Fischer, C. B., Körsten, S., Rösken, L. M., Cappel, F., Beresko, C., Ankerhold, G., Schönleber, A., Geimer, S., Ecker, D., & Wehner, S. (2019). Cyanobacterial promoted enrichment of rare earth elements europium, samarium and neodymium and intracellular europium particle formation. RSC advances, 9(56), 32581–32593.


BigSortzFan t1_jahi51m wrote

Thanks for the nuance.

Extraction, processing, then manufacturing, while keeping transport costs low, and low environmental regulations.

Including the chemicals/dyes required for each step being readily available.

Add in the power costs for powering the buildings and equipment.

It’s a lot to overcome if West wants to create leverage


artthoumadbrother t1_jahzpps wrote

> it's the fact that the cost of extraction is very low in China due to low labour costs and crucially the lack of environmental regulations.

Probably more important than either of these is that the Chinese government wanted the current state of affairs---they want leverage, and being the world's primary supplier of REM gives them some. To that end, they're fire-hosed low or even zero interest loans at the domestic REM industry so that their suppliers could undercut everyone else. Like a lot of Chinese products, REMs are being sold by Chinese companies for less than it costs to produce them.


average_asshole t1_jailp34 wrote

I was going to say hahaha, its not like the Asian continent is the only place they can be mined, its just that China does it cheaply enough that the western world is happy to preserve our environment and pay China to wreck theirs.

Even with environmental regulations, mining rare earth elements is especially toxic for the environment


Firewolf420 t1_jahw18a wrote

What can we - as consumers - do about this stuff, aside from just not buying tech and living like luddites? Is there some kind of sustainably sourced rare earth metals thing we can support?

I already try to make my own electronics and repair broken ones, and I avoid buying new tech when it's unnecessary to do so. Which I argue is likely more than most, but I'd rather find some way to not be involved in this toxic lake (and issues like this) if possible.


AGVann t1_jai0scd wrote

> What can we - as consumers - do about this stuff

I work in the environmental sciences field, so I'm gonna use this to soap box a bit.

I'm going to give you straight: You cannot avoid it. If you've ever bought a phone, you've financially contributed to the toxic chemical dumps, to the child slaves killed in cobalt mines, to the exploitation of factory workers. This is where the 'ethical capitalism' that's touted by greenwashing corporations falls short. Unless you are willing to live like a Luddite, you have to buy these products to participate in the modern world, and asking people to sacrifice their quality of life for the sake of morals is a tough ask. When it comes to these world-turning industries, boycotts are just rounding errors. Even the companies themselves find it difficult to change due to to tight margins, financial risks, long term contracts, and pressures of profitability.

So what can we do? The realities of this field can be depressing as fuck and I've often had people ask me this. For the average person, I recommend two things: Do the best you can for your conscience, and sometimes the best we can do is to mitigate. This is the reality we're facing now in everything climate and pollution related. We can't stop it. We have to start preparing to deal with it in other ways.

We all want to save the planet, but everyone's got different realities and tolerances. Don't use single use plastics. Stop buying bottled goods. Bring your own reusable mug to the cafe. Cycle or walk to work. Buy Fair Trade or Conflict Free audited goods. Eat vegetarian 2 nights a week. Join a local detrashing community, or tree planting group, or nature conservancy. Learning to repair tech is an excellent idea, and something I've tried to do more this year.

Not everyone is in a situation to do all of this, but at least you can be reassured of the fact that you're trying. It sounds silly, but this little bit of positivity does a lot to help the mentality of climate change being a hopeless but faraway problem, to one that we can work on in our own small ways and actually see a difference. If billions of us do make these little changes (or just dozens in a local community) it does help. In India, a single man started a beach clean up club that snowballed into the biggest beach clean up project in the world, and the beach is clean enough that sea turtles which hadn't been seen in decades came back.

We don't all need to be Gretas or Afrozes and change the world or a nation, but at least we can change a little about how we live.


gurgelblaster t1_jalh9vl wrote

> So what can we do? The realities of this field can be depressing as fuck and I've often had people ask me this. For the average person, I recommend two things: Do the best you can for your conscience, and sometimes the best we can do is to mitigate. This is the reality we're facing now in everything climate and pollution related. We can't stop it. We have to start preparing to deal with it in other ways.

We can, though, but it requires political organising and active political will, and if enough people pour their energy into those pursuits (i.e. towards circular economies, sustainable societal infrastructure, global solidarity, and anti-capitalist and green socialist political movements) that's going to have an outsized impact. Most of all, we need to drop the pretense that individual action from relatively poor people, even in rich countries, is going to have an impact. Stop the private jets, luxury fast fashion and superyachts and you've a good start going, both because of the direct impact of those industries, but also because that kind of action has symbolic value: your money doesn't protect you, and doesn't mean that you are not responsible and can't be held accountable. Rather the opposite in fact.

Sure, if you can be politically active and do the small-scale individualist consumer-power thing as well, that's good, but only through collective, political, direct action, are we truly going to get anywhere.


Lost-Otaku t1_jai633y wrote

Well, many are trying to save the planet but i don't think the most cauze as known they are not even literate. Rich are doing only to the sufficient(some are trying hard), middles are doing there level best, lower ones don't even know and don't even care. I think the rich one's are just hoping to migrate the planet (or save enough funds to migrate their generations). They are focusing more on technologies like outer space colonizing through the hope that one day we can use the materials of space to build mega structures (i think that's too futuristic). I literally don't think international unions are taking major strict steps to solve this problems. +++ I can feel the weather changing like cannonball w.r.t previous decade which can be start of a big climate disruptionnnnn. Summary. Helppppp


AGVann t1_jai7loa wrote

> I think the rich one's are just hoping to migrate the planet

If they can't even overcome their greed to survive on a planet that's already perfect for us, what hope do they have to build an artificial environment where one single mistake or cost-cutting measure can kill everyone?

It's going to go down like Covid: Nothing will happen until we're right in the middle of the crisis. Until there's a resource and climate crisis with millions of refugees and countries on the verge of war, then all the things us scientists and activists have been pushing for decades will happen in the record time.


NessTheGamer t1_jalb0ea wrote

Well that’s the issue with the climate crisis, by the time we hit the panic button the lion’s share of pain will be irreversible. Large scale population displacement is gonna be a disaster


MasterCheeef t1_jaijj9q wrote

I'm sure the Chinese are mining in Africa alongside their belt and road projects.


honorbound93 t1_jalkgbt wrote

I mean really how much more would it cost to just safely get rid of the waste. It would 100% save you on cleaning the water and environment in the future…


ABoutDeSouffle t1_jallr1f wrote

I can't understand why Western societies aren't implementing tariffs for environmentally destructive products from countries with lax environmental regulations


[deleted] t1_jai8888 wrote



AGVann t1_jai8kxq wrote

The consumer is just as culpable, because without that demand there wouldn't be an industry there in the first place. Playing the finger pointing game is a waste of time that solves nothing.


[deleted] t1_jai949n wrote



AGVann t1_jai9jk1 wrote

> It's insane to me that you would place equal blame

I didn't say "equal blame", I said "culpable".

> The consumer is largely a passenger in terms of what exists and what doesn't

So you're claiming that consumer demand doesn't exist and has zero measurable impact on market practises? Well buddy, it's not me that's "insane".


AmazingGrace911 t1_jak7w7c wrote

Jesus wept, wtf is wrong with us? In a little over a hundred years we’ve destroyed the planet. Fuck this dystopian nightmare, do any of them have any conscience at all? Or concern for their descendants??


Xgio t1_jahpk1v wrote

What shifting work abroad due to greed does to a developing country.


cosmic_fetus t1_jahwrtz wrote

Half the coin. There are people running those things there. I live in one & I wish the gov cared.


Tsu-Doh-Nihm t1_jaj2bp5 wrote

"Green" activists do not care about Chinese pollution, since China is already Socialist.


commentist t1_jahdg24 wrote

If I remember correctly world can switch fairly quickly from China right now if we want to. It is extremely environment unfriendly process so while China doing for reasonable price no one cares.


Gusdai t1_jai2430 wrote

It takes a couple of years to shift, because it takes a lot of infrastructure (and planning) to mine and refine.

But remember when China talked of export quotas on these minerals, to punish certain countries (Japan at the time)? That was a couple of years ago, and countries started developing their own supply already, because they understood the problem. So China doesn't have the same leverage anymore.


fauxbeauceron t1_jahc025 wrote

If that method can be scaled up that would be an amazing environmentally friendly alternative to mining! Amazing news!


exit2dos t1_jahit3q wrote

> alternative to mining

This will not negate the need to initially mine the REE's. The 'wastewater' they are talking about it wastewater from mining.


Regolithic_Tiger t1_jai47ff wrote

True, but mine water quality is a huge barrier to successful mine closure.

This has the potential to allow for way less chemical treatment, and therefore lower costs of closure and less likelihood of abandoning mines.... Provided it can also address other metals too.


exit2dos t1_jai62fj wrote

Absolutely ! The more the wastewater and tailings can be processed the less harmful they should (theoretically) become.

Settling Ponds are a wealth of resources, it is just unknown how & therefore unfeasable to process a lot of the that waste.


Regolithic_Tiger t1_jao5qjb wrote

tailings storage facilities (TSFs) are what you're thinking of. Settling ponds are those that are specifically designed to settle out suspended solids. TSFs will often contain a pond on them, but much of the impoundment area is beach (with varying degrees of water content). what I'm getting at, is that TSFs are more solid than water, while settling ponds are more water than solid (AFAIK). Mining terminology is weird.

And yes, in some cases tailings are reprocessed when technology catches up. It's kind of hard to do though.


[deleted] t1_jalijat wrote



Regolithic_Tiger t1_jao5yzv wrote

That's contact water, dude. It's not supposed to be clean. they have those ponds to manage their water so it doesn't get released to the environment. They then take the water from the ponds (and TSFs) and run it through the treatment plant or some other form of treatment and then discharge it once it meets water quality guidelines.


fauxbeauceron t1_jai26jy wrote

Just a taught experiment : what if we make plants and mushrooms concentrate those minerals for us then make a soup with them. Then the bacteria finish the job.


exit2dos t1_jai5ew1 wrote

I would think they would need caves to grow in, with the REE's exposed on (or near) the loose exposed surface. Mushrooms dont have roots like trees. I am unsure if the wanted REE's would be considered nutrients to a plant or mushroom. (after-thought; Some REE's definatly not as they are toxic and/or (mildly) radioactive).


Nozinger t1_jaj8e16 wrote

Not necessarily. The seawater can also contain those rare earth minerals with current methods it is just way too expensive to extract those comercially.
If we find a way to improve this technology and make it way cheaper or use it on a bigger scale we could potentially extract those elements from the sea.


crackpipecardozo t1_jajhj2l wrote

What about brine produced from oil and gas formations. Probably billions (if not trillions) of gallons of this in the US


exit2dos t1_jajqr4x wrote

I believe they are talking about the Brine slurry, just nameing it 'wastewater' for layman understanding.


runetrantor t1_jaj8bjr wrote

Wouldnt this sort of... filter out part of the contaminants of the wastewater so it not as environmentally damaging? Yes, its still from traditional mining, which in of itself is bad for the land, but maybe this can help not pollute the watertable as much?


reallyfatjellyfish t1_jahd9nr wrote

Everyday through the efforts of millions our collective future get brighter and brighter. I hope this will take off like they claim it will •u•


lughnasadh OP t1_jaheh1y wrote

>>If that method can be scaled up

I don't think there's any technical issue with it being scaled up, the researchers say as much in the original paper.

The issue is cost.

Will it produce the rare earth elements as cheaply as the mined product?

If supply-chain security is an issue, then maybe consumers might have to accept higher prices from non-Chinese sources.


ShitTalkingAlt980 t1_jahl38o wrote

There always is.

Source: just watched the same thing happen for Au from a wunderkind firm from Houston. Small test pad even showed promise. It is incredibly variable on a production leach pad.


danny17402 t1_jahzsfe wrote

We need to ramp up mining by roughly ten times what we're currently doing in the next ten years to meet the EU's goals for the green energy transition.

Nothing is replacing mining. We're already on pace to be behind where we need to be by an order of magnitude, and unfortunately public opinion is not currently where it needs to be to do anything about that. Mining IS environmentally friendly, when it's done right in countries with the proper regulation, in that the local environmental effects are minimal and short term, and it's literally the only way we have any hope of slowing climate change.

Methods like in the OP won't be viable until it's too late, and even then they'll be a drop in the bucket compared to mining.


pend-bungley t1_jakdgrp wrote

> We need to ramp up mining by roughly ten times what we're currently doing in the next ten years to meet the EU's goals for the green energy transition.

Do you have any links I can read more about this? Thanks.


danny17402 t1_jakok07 wrote

Sorry, I was paraphrasing from a talk I attended last week (I'm an economic geologist), but I don't have the data handy.

Suffice to say, most people in the industry don't have high hopes for our metal output in the next couple of decades. Nuclear is really our only hope imo.


[deleted] t1_jahneu5 wrote



Tsu-Doh-Nihm t1_jaj3k6q wrote

The "clean" countries outsource pollution to the country that cares the least about the environment.


cowet t1_jak0ajg wrote

That's too bad, hopefully they reverse course for the sake of their people


DavidLedeux t1_jai1p3u wrote

Don't worry, we'll offset the environmental damage from this any day now with our reusable canvas bags, paper straws, and spontaneously combusting EVs.


LanternCandle t1_jaj3sez wrote

Yeah we shouldn't make any changes ever, and if someone dares to say otherwise they are probably a socialist!


DavidLedeux t1_jajbwxm wrote

Oh no, I'm pro-Democratic socialism - I think we're having a bit of a miscommunication here. The intent of my previous comment was to illustrate that no matter what the average person does to mitigate their carbon footprint, ours are a drop in the bucket compared to those of major corporations in China (and elsewhere, I should add). I'm not anti- any of the things listed, it just sucks to have cardboard in my drink and to remember to bring my own bags, when there are such lax regulations for Chinese (and other nations') corporations when it comes to dangerous waste and emissions, which is a much larger contributor than anything private citizens do. I hope that clears things up; if I were a betting person, I think we want the same outcome here.


AmpEater t1_jaitzaz wrote

Evs are the non-combustable vehicle if you care about reality


DavidLedeux t1_jaj2b0k wrote


DannyChucksOne t1_jajbe5t wrote

You're using a website owned and funded by people who short Tesla stock. If that's your basis of evidence, try harder.

The data clearly shows that EVs account for a smaller percentage of fires than ICE cars.

Maybe ask yourself why they haven't updated their claim statistics for over 5 years.

They also skew their numbers by logging any incident involving a Tesla product which results in a fire. So if I crash my ICE car into your Tesla and they both catch fire, it goes in the book as a Tesla fire. But hey, why let facts get in the way, huh?


DavidLedeux t1_jajcs0g wrote

Oh, that's a great point I hadn't considered. I'm sure that skews the data a bunch


Information_High t1_jajyrqk wrote

Tesla is not the only EV manufacturer anymore.

Other manufacturers are coming online, and unless Tesla gets its quality and quantity issues straightened out, they're going to be Netflix in five years... the early market-maker that had its lunch eaten by the competition.


DavidLedeux t1_jak1xf4 wrote

Right now they're all like Paramount+: no one has them, no one gives a shit. There's going to come a day where they're going to have to do some kind of cash for clunkers type buyback program or something. But again, going back to my original point, US auto emissions are a drop in the bucket compared to the waste that corporations in China and elsewhere get away with dumping.


Information_High t1_jal7gic wrote

> no one has them, no one gives a shit.

Objectively untrue.

Ford's F-150 Lightning has received rave reviews, and Ford has been ramping up their production efforts in recent months.

Tesla's ridiculous Cybertruck is DOA at this point, and while their other models are still mostly ahead of the competition, only a lunatic would assume that's going to last for too much longer.


MyPhillyAccent t1_jahwnnw wrote

Is this going to be environmentally friendly like tar sands and fracking?


Sylvurphlame t1_jahxpme wrote

I mean, Cyanobacteria are probably not going to mutate and become pathogenic organisms… but we should probably stay away from the ones that already produce neurotoxins.

But I’m somehow sure those are the exact ones that would be most effective at extracting minerals.


madpiano t1_jaiipuz wrote

Are they not toxic because of the stuff they extract from the water?


Sylvurphlame t1_jaije1j wrote

I don’t know the exact mechanism. I just know that certain Cyanobacteria species produce neurotoxins. Either defensively or as a metabolic byproduct. Been a while since my last biology course.


madpiano t1_jaijk70 wrote

All I know about the stuff is that it is awful in fish tanks and was the bane of my life when I had one.


Jayr0d t1_jajlm27 wrote

Yep but not just cyanobacteria, dinoflagellets produce toxins that build up in shellfish and some marine daitoms can do the same.


Sylvurphlame t1_jajm1oh wrote

Dinoflagellates are the cause of the Gulf of Mexico Red Tide, if I recall correctly?


ProfessorOAC t1_jajmbd3 wrote

Microbiologist here! With some genetic attenuation of the bacteria, we can remove their ability to form these neurotoxins in a similar way we engineer E. coli to produce insulin. Remove the gene and viola! No more neurotoxins.

For example, I spliced genes from foreign bacteria into Y. pestis (literally the Black Plague) in college. There was virtually zero risk/threat working with this bacterium because it was an attenuated Y. pestis (it was genetically engineered to no longer cause the Black Plague).


Sylvurphlame t1_jajnr5v wrote

So it’s possible and practical to take normally dangerous bacteria and “pull their fangs?” What are the chances of them mixing with naturally occurring specimens and regaining their toxicity?


ProfessorOAC t1_jak2vg3 wrote

For the first question: yes.

The issue is this isn't the same concept as mosquito efforts where genetically modified mosquitos are released and meant to replace the natural populations. So we won't be ridding the world of disease-causing bacteria ever.

This isn't practical for bacteria. There are several limitations that these mosquito effort don't have(one obvious one is bacteria aren't buzzing around us for us to easily detect haha)

For the second question: Bacterial conjugation (genetic transfer between bacteria via direct contact) is definitely a possibility for certain bacteria with these capabilities. Also, it is typically plasmid DNA (so DNA from a tiny "chromosome" versus the main bacterial DNA) so these genes would have to be on this plasmid to be transferred typically, and it is likely not a part of this DNA, but who knows (I haven't looked into this bacterium). However, it isn't like a domino effect or a wave where these genes transfer exponentially. So if this did occur, it would likely remain a significant minority of the bacteria (like 0.0001%) because these would likely be engineered at a massive scale to perform the function. I also doubt where/when this occurs there will be a significant natural population of these bacteria. If there is, they could/would likely be killed before repopulation begins.

I haven't looked into this exact use so I don't know how they are planning to go about everything so my comment might be missing some key information.

Basically, these things are easily accounted for with bacteria (with some exceptions depending on the bacterium).


avdpos t1_jaioce7 wrote

You have a lot of waste water and stones/minerals left over when you mine.

This may help making it economically viable to get out one more product from the same mine.

So if it uses mine waste it may be better for envoirment. But we will see.


boringdude00 t1_jai0jqq wrote

Probably not, but it can't possibly be worse than just regularly mining and processing them. If they can get the small quantities of rare earth elements present in other deposits, say the copper or gold we're already going to be mining, and get them out in an economical way, that's still a net plus.


Mura366 t1_jahiury wrote

So these are the mineral bugs from the Ender's game universe


YumYumKittyloaf t1_jakfrwn wrote

Or the Metallic archaea from MGS 5 that could refine low concentration uranium to weapons grade.

I’m interested in the recycling capability of these things.


M98er t1_jaj4rum wrote

I always think that if Europe did not depend on china/asia and other countries to get their ores/metals/minerals/fuels, they’d develop way advanced methods just to comply with their own environmental compliance laws. This in turn would benefit the whole planet.


dillrepair t1_jaifajc wrote

Hey big news in case you don’t know…. One main reason russia probably wants the area they’d been occupying before it got worse in Ukraine… and more… is because there’s a shitload of rare earth minerals there. I heard an estimate on bbc that possibly multiple trillion dollars worth in today’s dollars.


LummoxJR t1_jaiz3yi wrote

Rare earths aren't rare to begin with; they're just difficult to extract.


kaestiel t1_jaityb7 wrote

Don't forget that's why the US has been trying to break up Russia and setup the Ukraine as their battering ram, too. Along with every other resource available in Russian land. Taiwan is the next Ukraine, the boogeyman groundwork has already been laid


pennomi t1_jakv8nj wrote

Indeed, that’s why the United States funded Ukraine’s invasion into Russia.

Oh no wait, it was Russia that invaded Ukraine, my bad.

It is extremely obvious who are the aggressors and who are the defenders here. If there is any breaking up of Russia, it’s entirely self-inflicted.


kaestiel t1_jameryw wrote

You're almost right. This has been the plan for a long time, even before the Rand Corp released it to the public.

Now that the US/NATO project Ukraine is wrapping up, Blackrock and the IMF are funding the reconstruction and the weapons industry has made trillions of dollars, time to move onto the next "Ukraine", Taiwan....the US State Department has been ramping up the propaganda for the next boogeyman, China. Lmao. Get ready to change your social media flags and the "I support whatever is next" banners to Taiwan! Lol.


pennomi t1_jamgrp6 wrote

I’m shocked that a nation would have a well-researched plan to destabilize its geopolitical enemy. Shocked, I tell you!

Of course it’s been a plan. Russia has been consistently invading and annexing pieces of sovereign nations for decades, and that needs to stop. I’m happy they’re finally being punished for the atrocities they have committed.


kaestiel t1_janbidl wrote

"atrocities"... LMAO. How about the US's death toll of hundreds of millions murdered in the regime changes and illegal military attacks on Libya/Iraq/Syria/China/Venezuela/Vietnam/Africa/Haiti etc etc. Where's the punishment? The hegemony the US has forced on the world since WW2 is over and the neo-cons know it. No one outside of the collective West gives a Fk about the Ukraine, and will not lose their solid diplomatic and trade partnerships with Russia and China, just to end up a failure like the majority of the EU, due to the US's failed geopolitical wet dreams. People like you are the problem with the World, not the US definition of "the world' aka the worlds minority Collective West. Good luck colonialist, your self-assigned "exceptionalism" is over, take a backseat and fall inline with The Omni-polar World. Uni-polar game over. Just in case you don't understand the escalating of a proxy war against Russia and now China, is only about business/trade (except for the balloon invasion, lmao). China and Russia are now turning into the superpowers by unifying the countries the US and collective West have exploited and driven into poverty or manipulated them to remain in poverty. Remember your history, all empires collapse, add the US/EU to the list. Lol.



pennomi t1_jap9rq0 wrote

Whataboutism at its finest. Please learn how to properly formulate an argument, because shitty logical fallacies aren't welcome here.

The US is obviously also guilty of unethically invading sovereign nations. That being said, they have not annexed any of the territories in question. Regardless, just because the US does it absolutely does not justify it being done by Russia.

In this case, the US is in a rare position of being on the ethical side in a military conflict. There is no justification for forcibly annexing another country's territory.


kaestiel t1_jarubpe wrote

Hahahahaha. You obviously have zero grasp on history and root causes of geopolitical conflict. Here's a hint, the US is guilty of more human atrocities, overthrowing of sovereign nations, financial/military support of terrorism and colonialism since WW2, than any other nation in the world. Prove me wrong. Plz. Before you claim your moral superiority over other nations, cleanup your own house. Again, don't forget to change your 'I support whatever I'm told to support' flag to Taiwan, another US proxy war is starting.


PseudoDave t1_jaht78f wrote

Interesting until you realize that most REE containing water sources which are viable are pH 3 and lower. So this method wouldnt work in vast majority of situations. There is tons of research on this and a very large DoD effort in this area far more economically viable than this currently. Cool work otherwise though...


LummoxJR t1_jaiz94s wrote

Correcting the pH seems like a trivial problem to solve, though.


PseudoDave t1_jaj29zq wrote

As the concentration is low. You need flow through and not batch, then need to release the water again. So you would have to change the pH on a fast flow through, capture, release, then recorrect pH for release after. There is proteins that work well at low pH for selective REE capture, LanM as an example.


Steamer61 t1_jajfefk wrote

Many rare earth elements are available all over the world in easily mined concentrations. In the US, it is virtually impossible to mine rare earth minerals due to environmental regulation, some reasonable, some not. Rare earth minerals can be mined safely but the US just won't allow it.


UlfarrVargr t1_jaiv8al wrote

Love to see the West surpass the authoritarians with our intelligence and freedom.


Sir-_-Butters22 t1_jaj0g2r wrote

Dude, what the fuck?

Edit: sorry I misread. I thought you meant the west were the authoritarians, and the others had superior intelligence.


UlfarrVargr t1_jaj1bby wrote

Hell no, glad you understood.

(I mean hell no to what you initially thought I said)


cowet t1_jal9ye4 wrote

This thread had a lot of respectful clarification lol


MooseBoys t1_jai2vpz wrote

30 years from now: Nobody was quite sure which of the new organisms became the seed for the Grey Goo, but…


Digital_Human82 t1_jahk8ks wrote

This would be interesting to see in action on something boring like volcanic ash or phosphate deposits. That stuff is all over. Wash it with hot water and then let the bacteria get after it all.


Goodgoditsgrowing t1_jajrqnq wrote

Well I’d say those researchers better not congregate on one plane any time in the future, or else this research is going to get set back further than aids research did…


GelatinousCube7 t1_jai0lqy wrote

Slaps knee, welp, im off to join the brotherhood of nod.


Accelerator231 t1_jakcr1x wrote

OK, I've read the thing. I don't think this is going to work. The REE's are going to have to rise to a really high level before this is economical.

>The authors found that an uncharacterized new species of Nostoc had the highest capacity for biosorption of ions of these four REEs from aqueous solutions, with efficiencies between 84.2 and 91.5 mg per g biomass, while Scytonema hyalinum had the lowest efficiency at 15.5 to 21.2 mg per g.

So from the start there's not a lot of good yields to begin with. Higher than parts per million, but seeing as its REE, no surprises there.

>Also efficient were Synechococcus elongates, Desmonostoc muscorum, Calothrix brevissima, and an uncharacterized new species of Komarekiella. Biosorption was found to depend strongly on acidity: it was highest at a pH of between five and six, and decreased steadily in more acid solutions.

Due to several aspects of minerals, how they mine things, and the sulfur inside the rocks, most of the mining tailings are acidic instead of alkaline. In other words, if you want the higher levels of biosorption, you're going to have to chemically treat the tailings before you can get them. In fact, there's a whole spectrum of acidities and alkalinities that they're going to be using. Meaning this process probably fails.

>The process was most efficient when there was no "competition" for the biosorption surface on the cyanobacteria biomass from positive ions of other, non-REE metals such as zinc, lead, nickel, or aluminum.

Have these guys ever looked into a mine tailing or factory waste? It's chock full of random non-REE metal ions. This means that yeah, you're going to have to extract and flter that mine tailing before you can get the REEs efficiently.

The only reason why bioremediation and biosorption of the waste is loved so much is because bacteria are self-replicating and frankly don't really give a shit if you throw them into a toxic dump. They're still happy to turn those heavy metals into less dangerous types or break down cyanide or absorb the cadmium into their chitin structure. Other forms of cleanup have problems due to how spread out things are and how large the volume of water is. But if you're trying to run a business that involves extracting the stuff for money, that means you have to pre-treat the stuff before it gets to you, usually chemically. And that costs a lot.


This is the actual article:


FuturologyBot t1_jah58lc wrote

The following submission statement was provided by /u/lughnasadh:

Submission Statement

"This system is expected to become economically feasible in the near future, as the demand and market prices for REEs are likely to rise significantly in the coming years"

It will be interesting to see what price this can be commercialized at. One of the themes of the 2020s is supply-chain security, and China being the dominant source for so many critical elements is a vulnerability. The EU has billions of €'s in funding set aside for circular economy initiatives. Bringing this to market seems a strong contender for that support.

Please reply to OP's comment here:


joseph4th t1_jahq99t wrote

This is what Tiberium did in Command & Conquer. It was how the aliens were terraforming Earth prior to their invasion.

Skrim? I think that’s what we called the aliens.


jert3 t1_jaj72yl wrote

Right on. Get those lazy bacteria to work, I have always said. Bunch of freeloaders!


Orisi t1_jaj8svf wrote

For some reason I initially read this as comically. Which ultimately has led me to disappointment, because commercially feasible is always a buzzword, comically feasible just sounds like we were being idiots and someone might actually do it in the next decade.


Jnorean t1_jaj9tpu wrote

LOL. So instead of an AI taking the China miners jobs it will be a "Cyanobacteria". I bet they didn't see that one coming.


Wilddog73 t1_jajg1qq wrote

I've seen the pictures of similar processes I think, I wonder what the byproducts could be.


Needleroozer t1_jajkiz9 wrote

Put them to work on our landfills and superfund sites.


ScarthMoonblane t1_jajlz8t wrote

Commercially feasibility isn’t the same thing as commercially viable.


AJ_Grey t1_jajq7vy wrote

Isn’t this how every Godzilla movie or space shooter game starts ?


JayTheLegends t1_jakqdjv wrote

Yeah let’s just contaminate the soil with heavy metal accumulating bacteria… that’s never going to leech into our water table..


Eljo4 t1_jald3fl wrote

So sad.

Everything is an economic war.

Change the system.


Background_Treat_977 t1_jalmvb0 wrote

Any technology that reduces the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on the rest of the world is a promising technology.


NerdIsACompliment t1_janr1kl wrote

Sprinkle them on our dumps and actually recycle everything


Ok-Water5348 t1_jar923f wrote

In my opinion, this technological innovation is of great significance, because rare earth elements play an irreplaceable role in modern technology and industrial production. From mobile phones to electric vehicles, from medical equipment to solar panels, these elements are needed. Most of the world's supply of these elements is now mined in China, and Chinese export restrictions and trade policies have made global markets more uncertain about the stability of these elements.

In addition, the method of extracting rare earth elements from low-concentration cyanobacteria is also an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, which helps to reduce the pressure on limited resources and the pollution of the environment.


Plaintoastnojam t1_jaj3v84 wrote

(Morgan Freeman voice) “… and on that day, Humans inadvertently created the conditions for the zombie outbreak of 2024”


Accelerator231 t1_jahthcq wrote

Hmph. Weird. I'm fairly sure I saw something similar 3 years ago when doing a paper on bioremediation. It's nice but living creatures are finicky. In all likelihood it won't be economical


superflippy t1_jahj136 wrote

I saw a poster on US scientists doing this last summer.


yilanoyunuhikayesi t1_jahqy4q wrote

Oh man, westerners get angry when a critical material doesn't come out in their control area. That was not ok when American soldiers electrocuted civilians in Abu Gharip from their rectums.


BocciaChoc t1_jahs6oa wrote

in reality it's the damage extracting/processing that makes it viable for China over anywhere else given the West dislikes the massive ecological impact but China does not.


_Darkside_ t1_jahtwhp wrote

The west does not care about those things either. Just look at oil extraction in the US or open-pit coal mines in Germany as examples.


BocciaChoc t1_jahu1gq wrote

Evidently they do given that they are centralised in China


_Darkside_ t1_jajcsn0 wrote

So your point is that Germany is fine destroying the environment on a large scale for almost worthless low-grade coal but does not want to do so for high-value rare earth.

If there were any known sources that are economical to exploit in Germany it would be done. Especially if that would reduce dependency on China. Similar story for the US.


BocciaChoc t1_jajlexk wrote

You're comparing an apple to a car, one is the process of obtaining a resource whereas the other is a refining process, additionally one was essential at one point in history, has an industry backing it, and has the skills and base already to procure and complete all steps needed. You're comparing that to one which is centralised outside already which functions fully and due to the massive impact results in no reason (As we very clearly see) to move it away from said centralised location.

Can Europe and the US refine rare earth? yes, to imagine they couldn't would be rather idiotic. The main reason why this isn't done is due to ecological impactful reasons and thus remains the status quo.


HellisDeeper t1_jaif3b1 wrote

Convinient cherry picking to say they don't care because of extracting vital materials, it similar faulty logic to blaming all emissions on Asia by pointing at China or India.

Look at the adoption rate for renewables in the rest of the western world, and current usage. France for example is ~70% nuclear, here in the UK we use a shit ton of wind power and some solar power.

That trend follows for pretty much all of Northern/Western Europe in their own unique ways, much like they have their own unique problems as well.


cowet t1_jalac2z wrote

Too many people don't take nuanced approaches. It's not perfect but it is indeed improving


yilanoyunuhikayesi t1_jalz0hq wrote

Yes, generally these kind of excuses being used as propaganda.

But it is a dirty tactic. Using a good/naive aspect as a curtain to pragmatic goals.