At the Natural History Museum our work is based on scientific collecting to support research on the natural world. In our collections we hold naturally occurring chemical elements in many different forms, compounds and combinations, so with many others, we are marking the 150 years since the periodic table was published in 1869 by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev by celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table. We are aiming to cover all of the elements in our collections in a blog, starting with osmium, rhodium and iridium.
In November, Laura Newsome, a Research Associate, and Sul Mulroy, a PhD student at the University of Manchester Geomicrobiology group, travelled to California for beamtime at the Advanced Light Source synchrotron at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Laura and Sul travelled to analyse samples generated from their work on the COG3 project. Sul reports from the visit.
On Friday 30 September, scientists from across the Museum gathered to take part in Science Uncovered 2016, part of European Researchers’ Night.
The theme for this year’s event was ‘Hidden Worlds’, which gave us the perfect opportunity to share the work we have been doing as part of the CoG3 project with members of the public. COG3 project member Rachel Norman reports from the event.
CoG3 project member and University of Manchester PhD student Sulaiman Mulroy reports back on a recent fieldwork trip to Cameroon in West Africa.
In June 2016 I travelled to Cameroon to collect samples from the Nkamouna laterite, one of a number of lateritic ore deposits formed on top of lenticular serpentinite rocks, which cover around 240km2 in the East of Cameroon.
In total the region hosts seven lateritic ore bodies, covering ~1250km2, though only two have been subjected to rigorous exploration: Nkamouna has proven and probable reserves of 54Mt at grades of 0.25% Co and 1.7% Ni, and further north, at Mada, 150Mt of inferred resources of similar grade are believed to be hosted in the laterite.
The overall purpose of our Science Advisory Board is to assess and advise upon the strategic direction of the team’s project, CoG3: Geology, Geochemistry and Geomicrobiology of Cobalt. It also ensures that all components of the project stay focused on their objectives and remain sufficiently integrated so that the entire project can deliver the desired impact.
In April 2016 the CoG3 team travelled to Brazil to carry out fieldwork at the Piauí deposit. Researcher Dr Paul Schofield describes their trip:
Cobalt is a technology-enabling metal with numerous applications that are particularly essential to the ‘green agenda’. Despite cobalt being such a critical material, there is a very high risk associated with its supply.
The world needs copper – we all need copper. It carries the electricity and hot water in our homes through cables and pipes. It is part of all the electrical appliances we use at home and in industry – an essential ingredient in any low-carbon economy. The sources and security of supply of copper are important in economic terms and of great interest for government policy and business strategy.
Every person in the UK uses around 8kg of copper per year. Worldwide usage exceeds 24 million tonnes annually and, whilst around 41% of European copper needs are met by recycling, the demands of growing economies like China and India mean that 75% of this usage is met by mined metal. Copper can’t be grown and simply recycling what we have already extracted won’t keep pace with demands.