With the success of the Chandrayaan-3 this August, India became the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon. Improved fabrication methods like 3D printing, plus larger-scale production of essential materials for remote activity, have made space technology cheaper than ever to build. Even conservative investors are financing ventures, thanks to the moon economy’s estimated $100 billion near-term market value. Many of the planned endeavors are exploratory in nature, but they could pave the way for the eventual commercialization of the moon—namely, establishing permanent bases and mining lunar water and regolith (lunar soil).
As demand increases for low-carbon technologies to power the energy transition, the acquisition of critical materials—so-called given their integral role in the transition of energy activities—is becoming increasingly important. As described in our previous post, such critical materials include rare earth elements (REE), lithium, nickel and platinum group metals. In short, the transition endeavors to reduce use of one non-renewable resource—fossil fuel—by significantly ramping up our use of other non-renewable resources. While critical material discussions have largely centered on the availability and economic extractability of the minerals themselves, Pillsbury is also counseling on the other resources needed to bring the materials to market at the scales required for our decarbonization goals.
As the world pursues ambitious net-zero carbon emission goals, demand is soaring for the critical materials required for the technologies leading the energy transition. Lithium may be the most well-known of these inputs due to its usage in batteries for vehicles and consumer electronics, but roughly 50 other minerals are central to energy transition technologies. During the coming years, producers, manufacturers and end-users will be increasingly exposed to the roles played by “rare earth” elements (roughly, atomic numbers 57 to 71), platinum group metals, and other materials.