Molybdenum: Precious metal?

Gold markets are riding high, but the next metal to rise in value might be one you can buy a ton of for about $750.   

It’s all about hydrogen as fuel. Engineers are trying to split water molecules to harvest hydrogen, but it’s expensive. The process requires a catalyst or two and one of the most effective is platinum, which sells for about the same price as gold. Besides, the world’s richest reserves are in South Africa and Russia – not always the friendliest or most dependable trading partners.

Enter molybdenum. When arrayed in single-atom-thick sheets with a layer of sulfur atoms in between, the result is molybdenum disulfide, the edges of which have energy-catalyzing properties that rival those of platinum. But to get the benefit of the edges, you have to handle the whole sandwich most of which doesn’t do anything for you.

Now, Sandia National Laboratories has discovered that doping molybdenum disulfide with lithium, another readily available mineral, activates the entire sheet, not just the edges. That makes molybdenum disulfide vastly more practical to use in water-splitting.

TRENDPOST: Molybdenum disulfide has shown promise as a hydrogen-storage medium and can be developed as a key to crack open water molecules and pull out the hydrogen. As the new hydrogen economy evolves, demand – and the price – for molybdenum are likely to rise.



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