Replacement of Rare Earths in Wind Turbines
Recently there was a scientific discovery that Tetrataenite may be a possibility for use as a replacement for rare earths as the magnets in wind turbines, so reducing the hold China has on the production of these. It would make them cheaper and easier to produce, maybe even reducing the cost by 2/3rds. This was only done on a very small scale, but as taenite is a mineral that is a combination of iron and nickel, iron and nickel being very common in the world, so this is a good step on the way to making wind power more viable as a replacement for the other forms of energy.
So far, well and good, but there is a problem. The tetrataenite is a more complicated form of taenite, similar in rarity and respect to diamonds and graphite, mostly being found in iron/nickel meteorites at the moment, being common in about gram quantities and requiring millions of years at very low temperatures to form naturally, and wind turbines use about 2 tonnes of rare earths per installation.
It is what is called a superlattice, with a very complicated set of conditions to produce small quantities of the stuff, so even if you could ramp up the scale to produce similar for general use you might find a £1,000 rare earth magnet costing a million pounds to produce using tetrataenite.
We are still waiting for the space elevator that only needs 26,000 miles of single strand diamond cable.