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04/05/2019

Energy Metals 101

What are Metals?

Metals are a class of elements that display thermal and electrical conductivity, which means that (among other things), they can carry an electrical current. Think of the components of your television, or the hard drive of your computer.

Metals are classified into 6 groups: Ferrous Metals (such as iron), Non-Ferrous Metals (such as zinc), Precious Metals (such as platinum, silver and gold), Specialty Metals (such as lithium), the Steel Alloy Family (such as stainless steel), and Others, which include things like sulfur.

Metals vs. Energy Metals – What’s the Difference?

Metals such as copper, lithium, cobalt, and scandium have been crowned “energy metals” because they are needed to power non-carbon-based technology. In other words, they are what power the energy industry’s new forms of energy such as electric car batteries.

What are Metals Used For?

Metals have uses in a wide range of applications and industries including:

  • Machinery
  • Energy
  • Transportation
  • Building & Construction
  • Information Technology
  • Appliances
  • Agriculture
  • Security

We don’t often make an association between everyday items such as cupboard handles or the jewelry, we wear with metals that have been mined from the earth; but perhaps that’s because they are so ubiquitous in our lives.

Look Around, What Do You See?

At any point in the day, all you need to do is take a quick look around to see just how reliant we are on metals. Below is a short list of some of the more common structures and objects made from these incredibly versatile elements.

  • Batteries
  • Outdoor signage
  • Bridges
  • Thermometers
  • Cars
  • Bicycles
  • Circuitry
  • Cranes
  • Furnaces
  • Safes & Lockers
  • Handrails
  • Wheelchairs
  • Highways
  • Roofs
  • Marine vessels
  • Plumbing pipes
  • Satellites
  • Stoves
  • Street lights
  • Mirrors
  • Windows
  • Doors

Heavy Metals

We rely on metals because they are incredibly strong as well as durable. Not only that, they are largely resistant to weather – making them an ideal building material. Structural beams used for building houses and skyscrapers are normally made from steel, as are plates for highway construction. Cars and trucks are also made from various types of metal, including their engines and the batteries powering a new generation of electric vehicles.

Pedal to the Metal

Although our modern world has always relied on metals to function, ballooning growth in the renewable energy sector has placed these commodities in the spotlight. To learn more, we encourage you to read the next installment of our series, Investing in the Energy Metal Market – What You Need to Know.