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Monthly Archives: December 2010

China Considers Further Rare Earth Quotas

BEIJING, €”China is considering issuing export quotas for rare-earth alloys in a bid to further regulate the exports of the minerals used in a variety of high-tech industries, a person close to the discussion of the plan said Tuesday.

China is also considering separate export quotas for heavy and light rare earths in a bid to better manage exports of such materials, the official said.

Officials have talked before about adjusting the quota system, and there is no sign a decision is imminent. But the government’s current consideration comes as the rare-earths industry and China’s dominance of it—is under greater international scrutiny than ever before.

Currently, China issues a single quota for rare earths, comprising 17 elements that are usually categorized into two kinds, giving exporters more incentive to ship the more precious and lucrative heavy rare earths overseas for higher returns.

The new plans involving alloys and separate quotas for heavy and light rare earths, if finalized, would mean even stricter control by Beijing on the resources as it closes potential loopholes for exporters to sidestep regulations.

Beijing has been slashing annual export quotas for rare earths in recent years, a move that has led to increasing frustration among overseas buyers for the material widely used in high-tech batteries, mobile phones and defense products.

Global buyers have argued that China has taken undue advantage of its position to raise prices and to leave technology companies little choice but to locate in the nation.

China, which supplies around 95% of the world’s rare-earth metals, has so far yet to set any quotas to limit exports of rare earth alloys, despite its controls on the export of raw metals.

The official close to the discussions didn’t say when the plan might be finalized, nor how the talks have proceeded.

The Ministry of Commerce declined to comment. Officials at the Customs Office weren’t immediately available for comment.

Industry officials said Tuesday that China has already stepped up scrutiny of rare-earth alloy exports in recent months as overseas demand remains strong, which has led to rampant smuggling.

“Exports of alloys that contain more than 10% rare earths must be reported to the Customs offices for stricter scrutiny, though China hasn’t issued an official notice on this matter,” said an official at a company based in the resource-rich Jiangxi province.

The Ministry of Commerce said Tuesday it will cut its quota on first-half exports of rare earths by around 35%, after having slashed the export quota by 72% for the second half of this year.

In another measure to curb rare-earth exports, China said it will raise export duties next year on neodymium.

The government also will start to levy export duties on six more rare-earth metals, rare-earth fluorides and rare-earth chlorides, in addition to existing tariffs ranging from 15% to 25% on roughly 30 types of rare earth primary products.

China has also decided to start levying an export tariff of 25% next year on alloys with more than 10% rare-earth content, according to information on the Ministry of Finance’s website.

The plan to set export quotas for rare-earth alloys has caused concern among some exporters.

Two officials from an exporter based in southern China said they hope the planned quotas are imposed on only a limited number of products, such as those with more than 30% rare-earth content, adding that otherwise their business would be significantly hurt.

US threatens China with WTO Case on rare earth exports

Washington, Dec 24 (DPA)

US trade officials Thursday threatened trade action against China over exports of rare earth materials, one day after embarking on a separate case before the World Trade Organization (WTO) against wind power subsidies.

The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) also accused China of a ‘troubling trend’ towards state intervention into its economy in recent years, according to an annual report to the US Congress on China’s compliance with the WTO’s rules.

The USTR said the US and other trading partners have expressed concerns over China’s limits on exports of rare earths that are found almost exclusively in China and are demanded by technology companies. ‘But to date China has not been willing to change its policies,’ the USTR wrote. The US would continue ‘vigorous engagement with China on this issue and will not hesitate to take further actions, including WTO dispute settlement, if appropriate’.

The warning comes after Trade Representative Ron Kirk Wednesday said the US was launching its first action against China over clean energy. The US began formal consultations before the WTO – the first step in a trade case – over what it considers illegal subsidies for wind turbine manufacturers in China.

Economic relations between the two global powers remain strained as trade has grown in past years. The US exports more goods to China than any other country outside of North America, but President Barack Obama has pushed for more liberalization in China by stepping up action before the WTO since he entered the White House in early 2009.

The USTR praised China for taking actions to liberalize its economy since joining the WTO in 2001. But those efforts ‘began to slow’ in 2006, and China had yet to implement all its commitments under the WTO. The result was that China sill maintained ‘industrial policies that rely on excessive, trade-distorting government intervention intended to promote or protect China’s domestic industries and state-owned enterprises’.

Market Trends for Tantalum 2010

Tue, Dec 21, 2010
By Michael Montgomery

The attention brought to the tantalum market in 2010 came from human rights groups, and the US government passing the “€œConflict Minerals Act” as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The hope of the human rights campaigns is that by forcing manufactures to disclose the use of conflict minerals in products the reputation of the manufacture is at stake. With the growing social and environmental consciousness of consumers worldwide, the goal is to provide transparency so that these consumers can choose products that do not fuel these human rights abuses. With the attention brought to the market, investors are seeking reputable mining companies. As a result a strong physical demand has increased the price of the metal.

The effort to create a tracking system and control the situation on the ground, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo halted all mining operations in the region in September of this year. ITRI, an organization of major tin producers and smelters, has been charged with creating the supply chain tracing system. The system will take some time to implement a system that will fully oversee the sourcing off these minerals from the numerous small mining operations in the region. The bill passed by the US requires this to be completed in a very short time frame, with a start date set for March, 2011.

Shortly after the passing of the bill, Chinese suppliers of the metal, and manufacturers of electronic goods were reported to be searching out all non-Congolese supplies of tantalum. €œSomeone purchased 75 % of Brazil’€™s output for $80, this after rejecting material from the conflict zone of the Congo,€ reported Metal Bulletin, adding €œthe customer was China’s Ningxia Non-Ferrous.

The supply chain for tantalum was already stretched thin before the reduction of supplies coming from Africa. Congolese tantalum represents about 15 percent of the entire market, which is dominated by Brazil and Australia. The reduction in supply from Africa stretches the supply even thinner. Prices have been steadily rising for the metal in demand, stemming from increased demand for high tech electronic goods. The desire for these products is not likely to subside anytime soon, which should drive this market in the future.

Tantalite ore prices remained fairly constant at $40 per pound from 2007 into 2009, but starting midyear 2009 prices began to increase dramatically. In less than a year, tantalite ore prices more than doubled with the prices for Q1 2011 now coming in at $120 per pound and spot prices expected to touch $150 per pound,” stated Mary Ellen Bauchman, TTi Insights. TTi is an electronics manufacturer; these prices represent what suppliers pay for the materials.

Physical demand will continue as tantalum is irreplaceable in many of the high tech electronic products. The increase in demand from a rapidly urbanizing China alone will grow the consumer electronics market, putting added pressure on already thin tantalum supply. Acer, the world’€™s second largest PC vendor, expects €œPC revenue would grow 10-15 percent next year, driven by growing demand from China and emerging markets,€ reported Ken Wills, for Reuters.

The growth of these markets will fuel the price of tantalum in 2011. When coupled with the move away from tantalum sourced in Congo, the outlook for tantalum mining firms is strong. The outlook from tantalum consumers in the US is for dramatic price increases in 2011. Bauchman added, €œThe DRC “€œConflict”€ region supply will effectively be taken off line on or before 3-31-11 thus reducing the overall available supply by 16% Tantalum demands will continue to increase driven by upside of needed components for wired communications equipment, laptop computers, 4G hand phones and other newer technology electronic components,€ she went on to say that, “In the near term these manufacturers will have to replenish their supplies at current market prices of more than 2X their old cost structures resulting in large tantalum capacitor price increases.

Tellurium Nerds Gold

Tellurium, used in both photovoltaic and thermoelectric technologies, has become a recent topic of debate in cleantech and materials science because of its rarity. With massive recent commodity price increases in rare earths and precious metals, I attempt to make some sense of the tellurium demand picture and whether we might expect a similar rush for the inconspicuous chalcogen element.

History

Tellurium (Te) is an element, number 52 on the periodic table, whose rarity on earth rivals only that of a handful of other elements, including gold. It is the namesake of the Telluride Film Festival and Telluride, Colorado, a mining town where gold telluride was thought to be found in the late 1800s.

The chart above shows the natural abundance of elements on Earth. For all practical purposes, this picture is static: it is the result only of world-formative events like the big bang and major asteroid impacts (despite any attempt at alchemy, black magic old or particle accelerator new). The fact that gold and tellurium have similar abundances on earth is merely a coincidence, but they are nonetheless found together in alloys of tellurium, or tellurides. Tellurides like calaverite were initially foolishly discarded during the first gold rush of 1849 and the subsequent discovery of gold in them spawned a second gold rush a few years later. Mining and metallurgy, an often high-tech profession at the time, was probably the only field that had tellurium in its vernacular.

Unlike tellurium, gold is the element of basilicas and twenty twos not because of its rarity, but because of its (anti) corrosive properties. Technically speaking, gold’€™s chemical reduction potential is positive, meaning it requires extra energy to become oxidized and therefore it never loses its luster while adorning our teeth and bathroom door handles. Tellurium, on the other hand, was not blessed with the pretty gene. Its current spot price on metals markets (~$200/kg, 200x cheaper than gold) reflects this.

Any engineer will tell you that looks aren’€™t everything. Tellurium, in the throws of its own fifteen minutes, has the potential to become similarly priced in the long term due to its increasing use in the highest tech applications. Tellurium has a rich history, if anything, having played a role in every stage of mining and materials science since 1849. During the space race, mining and metallurgy eventually became materials science, an interdisciplinary field of science and engineering incorporating physics and chemistry. With the discovery/invention of quantum mechanics in the 1910s and 20s, solid state physics was born and so was the modern notion of a semiconductor material. It would be thirty years before a semiconductor was applied to computation through microchips, and it would be silicon that proved ideal for this application. Initially, however, an alloy of tellurium, bismuth telluride, was the star of the solid state physics community for its fantastic Peltier, or thermoelectric, properties. A Soviet physicist who published much of the seminal work on solid state physics named Abram Ioffe believed that the commercial application of semiconductors would come in refrigeration through something known as the Peltier effect. The Peltier effect is when a semiconductor material pumps heat when electricity is made to flow through it. Any material that does this efficiently is called a thermoelectric.

Clearly, bismuth telluride and thermoelectric technology lost to the common compressor refrigerator, but one can nonetheless find these semiconductor coolers in a few places. If you have a quiet wine fridge in your living room, a climate controlled seat that cools you down in your Ford F150, or night vision goggles, then you’€™ll find a Peltier cooler inside.

Today tellurium is seeing its first real growth in use in a different application: solar cells. First Solar (FSLR), darling of all solar startups, uses a thin-film of cadmium telluride (CdTe, or €œcad-tell€) as one of the functional layers in its cells that helps collect sunlight. The company is increasing production quickly. Raw cadmium and tellurium demand is increasing and alas, tellurium could finally have its day. The question is whether Te, currently priced at ~$200/kg on the spot market and with the same supply constraints as gold, will ever have the type of demand that has gold currently trading two hundred times higher at ~$40,000/kg.

Production

Tellurium supply has historically never been much of a concern to anyone. Today tellurium is produced from the refining of copper in the same way gold is produced, as the byproduct of an electrolytic refining process that manifests itself in nasty resultant anode sludges. Tellurium is produced primarily by a Canadian company named 5N Plus which extracts it from these sludges. According to the US Geological Survey, 200 metric tonnes of tellurium were mined in 2009 worldwide and the world can sustain 1,600 metric tonnes of production per year maximum (but these estimations are hard to make accurately“ see Jack Lifton’s piece on tellurium supply here). In comparison, there were about 2,500 tonnes of gold mined in 2009, and 165,000 tonnes of gold have been mined, ever. Gold production peaked in 1999 at 2,600 tonnes. Let’s assume that tellurium could be produced at similar levels to gold going forward.

Gold demand currently comes from three areas: jewelry (~2,750 tonnes/year), reserve assets (~350 tonnes/year), and the electronics industry (~350 tonnes/year). Adding this up we get 3,450 tonnes/year demand, well over the amount produced. The difference is made up from both recycling of jewelry and the selling of reserve assets.

Gold, however, as an element that is also tied to the world economy through federal reserves and currencies, is not truly a commodity because its price is not generally close to its marginal cost of production. For that reason, let’€™s consider an element that might be slightly more similar to gold (Au) in that sense: platinum (Pt) or palladium (Pd). Both of these elements currently trade at $60,000/kg and $25,000/kg, respectively. The order of magnitude of these spot prices are the same as that of gold’€™s; while these elements tend to follow gold and are therefore somewhat subject to price swings that may not be concomitant with economic fundamentals, tellurium’€™s price can still be expected to rise significantly, albeit perhaps not quite by 200x, if demand for it was also >2,000 tonnes/year.

So how could tellurium demand increase by a factor of ten? Should First Solar be worried? Should producers of bismuth telluride thermoelectric devices be worried?

Tellurium Demand

First, let’€™s examine how much tellurium First Solar uses, and what this costs as a fraction of their total cost to produce a CdTe photovoltaic cell.

The density of CdTe is 5.8 g/cc. This gives 3.08 g/cc of Te in CdTe.

The efficiency of FSLR’€™s modules is ~11%. At a solar irradiance of ~1100 W/m^2, their cells will have a maximum power density of ~121 W/m^2.

At a CdTe film thickness of 3 µm, and at a 2.7 GW target production in 2012, they will be using roughly 71 m^3 of tellurium per year in the cells alone.

This would mean using 218 metric tonnes of tellurium per year in their cells. As described earlier, global production is currently estimated at 200 metric tonnes/year and could go as high as 2,500 if we do a straight comparison to gold.

This means FSLR would have to be producing somewhere near 27 GW per year of solar panels to ever be truly supply constrained by tellurium. Considering 20 GW of new power plants were built in the US in 2009, and that 550 GW of new capacity is expected to be installed in China between 2010 and 2020, 27 GW of PV production per year is somewhat plausible many years out and by no means likely.

To understand whether First Solar is shielded from volatility in the price of tellurium, let’€™s look at what the cost of tellurium is within their cells. From our analysis above it takes 80 metric tonnes of tellurium to manufacture a gigawatt of cell, assuming FSLR’€™s CdTe deposition is 100% efficient in that no tellurium is wasted or lost (not the case, but we’€™ll stick with this assumption). At $200/kg, 80 metric tonnes costs $16 million, or 1.6¢/Watt. At an overall production cost of $1.00/Watt, the price of tellurium would have to increase by at least 10x before FSLR would feel significant pain. It is safe to say that they are not going to affect the tellurium market nor be sensitive to much volatility in it with business as usual.

Now let’€™s look at thermoelectrics and their application for something converse to refrigeration: power generation. Bismuth telluride and a similar alloy, lead telluride, have been studied for a long time for their ability to generate electricity from an applied temperature gradient such as a waste heat source. The automotive industry, in particular, has big plans to incorporate thermoelectric waste heat recovery technology into engine tailpipes to turn wasted heat in exhaust back into electricity. These systems require roughly 1 kg of bismuth or lead telluride per car typically, roughly half of which is tellurium.

Will adoption of automotive thermoelectric generators cause a tellurium shortage? About 60 million motor vehicles were produced in 2009, only a tiny fraction of them not with an internal combustion engine. If each had a thermoelectric generator on them with 0.5 kg of tellurium within, over 30,000 metric tonnes of tellurium would be required per year€“ over 10x more production than what is thought to be possible, and over 100x more than what is currently produced annually. Modestly, if only 7 million cars per year had thermoelectric generators (all of GM’€™s and BMW’€™s autos, for instance) we would expect tellurium demand to be 3,500 metric tonnes/year. Even if we assume this tellurium usage could come down by a factor of ten through going to more power dense configurations and by using thin film materials, the long term picture is still bleak. Surely a problem for anyone expecting to scale this technology€“ and for FSLR for that matter! (Note FSLR’€™s relationship with the largest tellurium supplier 5N Plus.)

More importantly, however, is that it currently costs $100 for just the tellurium in an automotive thermoelectric waste heat recovery generator, and these systems typically produce no more than 500 W of power. In the low margin automotive industry, $0.20/Watt will never cut it; the question of whether the automotive industry will ever impose a tellurium shortage practically moot.

Gold, platinum, palladium, and rare earth elements have all seen their values skyrocket in recent months. While there is nothing immediately suggesting tellurium will follow suit, it will surely be an interesting metal to follow over the next decade – and an analysis like this hopefully helps guide technologists away from the use of telluride materials in all but the niche-est of applications.

Matthew L. Scullin is CEO of Alphabet Energy, Inc., a producer of thermoelectric materials that use no tellurium. This article was previously published on his Scullin blog.

Silver Brighter future than gold

20 Dec, 2010, 02.45AM IST, Vivek Kaul and Prashant Mahesh,ET Bureau
Silver: Brighter future than gold?

You’d probably laugh it off if someone claimed silver is the hottest metal, given gold’s runaway prices. Since the beginning of the year gold is up about 20%. Silver, in the same period, has given a whopping 60% return. “This relative outperformance will continue,” says Vijay Bhambwani, CEO, BSPLindia.com.

Silver price is at a 30-year high of $30 an ounce (Rs 45,665 per kg). Let us do a quick analysis to find out if you should invest in it.

Riding on high demand: Silver has more industrial applications than any other metal. A recent report by Hinde Capital says: “It’s the best conductor of both heat and electricity, the most reflective, and second-most ductile and malleable element, after gold.” The white metal is also being put to several new uses-water purification, air-handling systems and a natural biocide.

“New products using silver’s biocidal qualities are being developed each year; clothing, bandages, toothbrushes, door-knobs (flu-protection), keyboards, the list goes on,” Hinde Capital report points out.

On supply side, things are grim: Silver analyst Theodore Butler at Butler Research says, “Silver inventories are down from 10 billion ounce in 1940 to 1 billion ounce today. Gold inventories, in contrast, are up 4 billion ounce since 1940, according to World Gold Council.” The world has five times more gold than silver, he says. Though this may be extreme, it’s true that silver will soon become scarce. Jeff Nielson, editor, Bullionbullscanada.com says he would side with a more conservative 6:1 gold silver ratio. “This is small enough, given the 47:1 price ratio.”

Also even though the earth’s crust has 17.5 more silver than gold, production of silver cannot be ramped up overnight. Almost two-thirds of the silver that is mined comes as a byproduct from mining of metals like copper, lead and zinc. So it isn’t easy to ramp up production straight away. Data from the silver institute suggests silver mine production rose 4% to 709.6 million ounce in 2009.

No recycling of silver: Silver recycling isn’t always possible primarily because it is used in very small quantities as an industrial metal, and not always monetarily viable to recycle. Even at its current price, recycling doesn’t make sense. As Nielson pus it, “We must remember that virtually all the gold in the world has been conserved (recycled) because it’s high value economically justified recycling. So, may be when silver advances to somewhere between $50 and $100 an ounce, we should start to see much more recycling.”

High price in short and long term: Mismatch between price and demand makes silver a great long-term bet. “For most of the last 5,000 years, gold silver price ratio averaged 15:1. The current ratio of over 45:1 is unjustified and unsustainable,” says Neilson. The logic behind this is that silver is roughly 17 times more plentiful than gold (though its supply is rising at a lower pace). So with current gold price at about $1,400 an ounce, silver should be around $93 an ounce. That’s nearly three times silver’s current price. If market corrects this ratio and silver price rises to this level, it’s a huge bounty for investors. As Butler says, “I’ll be amazed if we don’t climb past $100 an ounce in the next three to five years. The amazing thing is, despite silver [prices] being up five times from its lows of about $4 an ounce, the current investment thesis is better than ever. That’s because silver is getting greater investor awareness.”

Prospects are high in the short term too. “In the next couple of months, silver could trade between Rs 46,000 and Rs 47,000 a kg,” says Rakesh Varasia, research officer, Indian Bullion Metal Association. “Inventories are so severely stressed that the next spike in 2011 will most likely take silver to or above $50 an ounce (about Rs 75,000 a kg),” adds Nielson.

Gold goes up, silver follows: Gold prices have been going up for a while given countries around the world either printing money or threatening to do so, leading to investors betting on gold. “Relentless debasing of fiat currencies will inflate gold further,” says Bhambwani of BSPLindia.com. His views are echoed by Ritesh Jain, head, fixed income at Canara Robeco Mutual Fund. “Silver is seen to be a poor cousin of gold. If gold prices rise, silver will follow closely,” he says.

How to buy silver: The simplest way is to buy silver is through silver exchange-traded funds. But they’re not available in India. You can always buy bars and coins but storing them can be a problem. The most practical solution is to buy e-silver. E-silver was launched recently by National Spot Exchange. This is similar to buying shares and holding them in a demat form.

National Spot Exchange has 370 brokers and 40 depository participants (DPs) empanelled on it. All you’ve to do is approach your broker and sign a client registration form, one-time cost of which is Rs 100. Annual depository maintainence charges could be between Rs 300 and Rs 600 a year.

Whenever you transact, the brokerage charge is between 0.25% and 0.50%, and depository transaction fee is Rs 25-50 per transaction. For physical delivery of the metal, you have to pay Rs 200. Currently silver is delivered at National Spot Exchange centres in Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

But even in this case, investors need to be careful not bet all their money on silver. “Since silver is a volatile commodity, retail investors should invest through the systematic investment plan route,” says Karun Verma, senior research analyst, Religare Commodities.

U.S. at risk of rare earths supply disruptions

The United States risks major supply disruptions of rare earth metals used in clean energy products unless it diversifies its sources of the minerals, the Energy Department warns in a report due to be released later on Wednesday.

The United States and other countries are worried that China, which controls 97 percent of the world trade in rare earth metals, will use those supplies as a political weapon and cut back their export when it is in a dispute with another country or to grow China’s clean energy technology sector.

“The availability of a number of these materials is at risk due to their location, vulnerability to supply disruptions and lack of suitable substitutes,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a report, due to be unveiled on Wednesday at a rare earth metals conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The release of the report coincides with trade talks in Washington between the United States and China. U.S. officials are expected to push Chinese officials to loosen export restraints on rare earth elements.

China, which said on Tuesday it planned to raise export taxes on some rare earth metals beginning next month, holds 37 percent of known rare metal reserves, the United States has 13 percent and the rest is in other countries.

The 17 rare earth metals, with exotic names like lanthanum and europium, form unusually strong lightweight materials and are used in a wide range of applications including high-tech and defense products, car engines and clean energy.

CHINESE STRANGLEHOLD

By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON | Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:23am EST

2011 Looks Good for Cleantech Industries

Is the air leaking out of the buoyant cleantech sector? We’€™ve been hearing such chatter for months, but Dallas Kachan of the consulting firm Kachan & Co. is out with a forecast that says not to worry: 2010 was a glorious year for cleantech investment and more of the same is on tap for 2011. Kachan says that there are simply too many factors driving venture capital into the sector.

We predict these drivers€“ particularly the real or perceived scarcity around oil, rare earth elements and other commodities will be felt even more acutely in 2011, especially as the Chinese middle class expands, further cementing the demand for and the market validity of clean technologies,€ Kachan, managing partner of Kachan & Co., says in a press release.

Kachan says one notable feature he expects in 2011 is €œa return to early state venture investments as government grants and loan guarantees begin to fade. €œVenture investment in cleantech will return to what it does best: seeking out emerging early stage technologies and teams that promise good multiples, and will be less influenced by governments putting large amounts of capital to work themselves, Kachan says.

The subcategory getting the most attention, he says, will be efficiency, which Kachan said began to get €œserious traction€ in 2010 with big announcements, investments and acquisitions by GE in the third quarter and energy-efficiency plans unveiled in recent weeks by Russia.

Thin-film PV comes one step closer to rivaling crystalline PV in efficiency

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)certified a thin-film MiaSolé photovoltaic (PV) panel at15.7 percent, the most efficient copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) panel the lab has tested.It’s an important step as CIGSmanufacturers strive to close the efficiency gap with the more expensive crystalline silicon PV, which has traditionally been more efficient.While NREL has tested a CIGS PV cell that reached about 20 percent efficiency, that cell was specially developed in the lab and was only a square centimeter in size.

“The significance of the modules tested at NREL is that they’re all done on the product line,” said Stephen Barry, vice president of corporate development at MiaSolé.

The news, he said, comes on the heels of MiaSolé’s announcement of modules rated at 14.3 percent efficiency in September 2010. The goal is to achieve a CIGS module that is as efficient as the most powerful CIGS cells tested at NREL,

“We believe there’s more headroom there [for efficiency increases],” he said.

“This is a very exciting result, especially when it comes so soon after the previous 14.3 percent achievement from last September,” NREL solar researcher Dr. Rommel Noufi said in a press release. “An almost 1.5 percent absolute increase in efficiency in such a short time on a continuous roll-to-roll manufacturing line is impressive and demonstrates good process control and a validation of the MiaSolé approach.”

At present, because thin-film PV is behind crystalline silicon PV in terms of efficiency, it need more space to produce electricity. Therefore, most thin-film PVs available today are being used in large-scale applications like commercial warehouses and solar farms and not for residential purposes. As firms like MiaSolé close that efficiency gap, they will likely become more suitable for residential installations. Barry realizes this and said that the application of their product will change as they gain ground with efficiency.

Thin-film PV also allows for more flexibility in design and use.

For instance, MiaSolé’s modules are deposited on a flexible steel substrate, which makes them physically flexible, something that crystalline silicon panels can’t achieve. However, at present, they’re encapsulated in glass, Barry said. But the company has an active building-integrated PV program, he said. And in the future, its PV materials could take the form of roofing for instance.

Don’t expect the 15.7 percent efficient module on the shelf at your neighborhood PV store tomorrow, however.

“We have our MR-107, a 10.5 percent efficient module,” said Barry. “We’re shipping those now in volumes. We have submitted to UL a 13 percent efficient module.”

He said the 13-percent efficient modules will be in production in the second quarter, and couldn’t estimate when the new, more powerful modules would reach commercial availability.

Rare Earth Elements and Rare Industrial Metals

Swiss Metal Assets offers packages or “baskets” with the following metals that will secure and protect your wealth and inflation because these metals are in High Demand by different manufacturers and used in 80% of industry today.

Hafnium is a heavy metal of high density (13.31 g/cm3), a lustrous, silvery gray, tetravalent transition metal. Hafnium is found neither dignified nor in their own minerals.

Hafnium is used in nuclear power plants. China already decided to start to construct many nuclear power plants. The demand for hafnium will increase even more because of this fundamental decision. In the nuclear industry such as in aircraft hafnium is in strong demand.

The hafnium we are offering has the big quality of not more than 1% of zirconium in it. It is difficult to buy this quality it in the market. But we do have it. So our hafnium really can be resold, the demand for that quality is high.

Indium has a great future ahead. The main application is in solar technology. A hot new economic use will be the coating of screens / windshields of cars with indium. Ice is then without any chance – even at -0.4° Fahrenheit (-18 ° C). Before the economic crisis indium was already three times as expensive as today.

Gallium can be alloyed with numerous other metals. Due to its ideal attributes high-purity Gallium is mainly used as semiconductor material. The chips so produced are faster than others. Furthermore, it is used in the optoelectronic area, i.e. for the production of LEDs, in thermometers as eutectic consisting of Gallium-Indium-Tin, and others.

Bismuth is a rare, reddish-white semi-metal. Bismuth is used for the production of alloys and in medicine it is applied in field of chemotherapy.

Tantalum is used in alloys. Tantalum is very hard and can be applied for the production of surgical instruments, electronic elements and fast turning steels.

Tellurium is used as a pigment for glass and in alloys. Furthermore, Tellurium compounds are applied in the semi-conductor electronic area.

Ownership of wealth

Do you own your wealth? I am not writing about your jewelry, or your car, or your house! Do you own your liquid HARD EARNED CASH?

The answer is a fat NO; but don’t worry neither does Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc. has complete ownership of their wealth but they have taken preventive measures to secure and preserve their accumulated wealth.

Neither they nor you could move over $10,000.00usd from the US to another country without being interrogated as if you were some common thief by customs and the IRS.

What is wrong with this picture?

Webster Dictionary defines Ownership as: To have power or mastery of it.

Are there individuals who have ownership of their liquid HARD EARNED CASH?

YES!

They have diversified their accumulated wealth to such an extent and with well known entities that no matter where in the world they wake up it is available to them over the internet or telephone.

Now you have that option with Swiss Metal Assets. We offer you the opportunity to turn your liquid assets to secure tangible assets.

The majority of the stock brokers are now pushing for the private investor in invest in mining stocks. What you are buying with the stock is promise if the mine finds, extracts, and sells the metal you will receive a dividend.

What we offer are physical stock in your own private niche in an ultra secure vault in Switzerland. You have ownership of this metal which will secure and preserve your wealth.

Ownership of Rare Earth Industrial Metals :: Swiss Metal Assets

Swiss Metal Assets is the vanguard in ownership of real metal assets to counter the negative effect the global financial crisis on your accumulated wealth. There are hundreds of bloggers out there that can tell you on the impending doom and gloom which is the result of Quantitative Easing.

Swiss Metal Assets will give you the only viable solution to protect and preserve your wealth.

With our offices in Panama City, Republic of Panama and our vault in Zurich, Switzerland we have the best of each geographic location. The Republic of Panama has sophisticated financial laws and Switzerland is known for their security and stability.

You can rest assured that your accumulated wealth will be protected and preserved in a financially and ultra secure environment.

Our metals include but are not limited to Hafnium, Gallium, Indium, Bismuth, Tantalum and Tellurium which are used in the fabrication of different items we use every day from the fiber optic wire that connects to the internet, to, parts of nuclear reactors that provide SAFE electric power to your house.

These metals are also leading the way to new a more efficient ways of producing green power from windmills, solar panels, and batteries used in electric cars.

For a free consultation with a Rare Earth Metals Advisor about how we can assist you in securing and preserving you wealth please call our numbers below or contact us by clicking here.