Abundance (atom fraction) of the chemical elements in Earth’s upper continental crust as a function of atomic number. The rarest elements in the crust (shown in yellow) are not the heaviest, but are rather the siderophile (iron-loving) elements in the Goldschmidt classification of elements. These have been depleted by being relocated deeper into the Earth’s core. Their abundance in meteoroids materials is relatively higher. Additionally, tellurium and selenium have been depleted from the crust due to formation of volatile hydrides.
From the table below we can see that currently civilization is using 8.6 billion tons/year of carbon materials and 1.2 billion tons of iron.
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade.
Cement is made by heating limestone (calcium carbonate), with small quantities of other materials (such as clay) to 1450 °C in a kiln, in a process known as calcination, whereby a molecule of carbon dioxide is liberated from the calcium carbonate to form calcium oxide, or quicklime, which is then blended with the other materials that have been included in the mix . The resulting hard substance, called ‘clinker’, is then ground with a small amount of gypsum into a powder to make ‘Ordinary Portland Cement’, the most commonly used type of cement
There are four chief minerals present in a Portland cement grain: tricalcium silicate (Ca3SiO5), dicalcium silicate (Ca2SiO4), tricalcium aluminate (Ca3Al2O5) and calcium aluminoferrite (Ca4AlnFe2-nO7). . A typical example of cement contains 50–70% C3S, 15–30% C2S, 5–10% C3A, 5–15% C4AF, and 3–8% other additives or minerals (such as oxides of calcium and magnesium). It is the hydration of the calcium silicate, aluminate, and aluminoferrite minerals that causes the hardening, or setting, of cement
Materials used above 1 billion tons/year
carbon 8.6 billion tons/year
iron 1.4 billion tons/year
cement 3.1 billion tons/year (calcium carbonate)
Materials used above 100 million tons/year
Phosphorous 153,000,000 Tons/Year
calcium 112,000,000 tons/year
oxygen 100,000,000 tons/year
Materials used above 10 million tons/year
Sulfur 54,000,000 Tons/Year
hydrogen 50,000,000 tons/year
nitrogen 44,000,000 tons/year
potassium 36,000,000 tons/year
aluminum 30,000,000 tons/year
copper 15,000,000 tons/year
zinc 12,500,000 tons/year
ELEMENT AT# %WEIGHT PRESENT USE UNITS/NOTES Oxygen 8 46.60 100,000,000 MT/y Silicon 14 27.72 3,880,000 MT/y Aluminum 13 8.13 30,000,000 MT/y Iron 26 5.00 1,200,000,000 MT/y Calcium 20 3.63 112,000,000 MT/y Sodium 11 2.83 Potassium 19 2.59 36,000,000 MT/y (1000 ppm) Magnesium 12 2.09 Titanium 22 0.44 99,000 MT/y Hydrogen 1 0.14 50,000,000 MT/y Phosphorus 15 0.12 153,000,000 MT/y Manganese 25 0.10 Fluorine 9 0.08 Sulfur 16 0.05 54,000,000 MT/y Chlorine 17 0.05 Carbon 6 0.03 8,600,000,000 MT/y (480-1800 ppm) Rubidium 37 0.03 Vanadium 23 0.01 Chromium 24 0.01 Copper 29 0.01 15,000,000 MT/y Nitrogen 7 0.005 44,000,000 MT/y Boron 5 trace Cobalt 27 trace Zinc 30 79 ppm 12,500,000 MT/y Lithium 20 ppm 39,000 MT/y Selenium 34 trace Molybdenum 42 trace Bromine 3 ppm 330,000 MT/y Tin 50 2.2 ppm 165,000 MT/y Iodine 53 1.2 ppm 80,000 MT/y Uranium 1.8 ppm 56,000 MT/y Silver 0.08 ppm 23,000 MT/y Gold .0031 ppm 2,800 MT/y
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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