Written evidence submitted by the Society
of Chemical Industry Materials Chemistry Group (SIM 08)|
 Materials Chemistry is a special interest group
of the Society of Chemical Industry; it has approximately 400
members drawn from:
- (i) The industrial sector, which represent
a broad spectrum of basic research and development, manufacturing
and processing technology as well as senior managers and directors
who are responsible for wide ranging policy development.
- (ii) Academics and emerging young scientists
that constitute a core segment of UK fundamental and applied research
and technology transfer.
 The Group, through the Society, is a major forum
for bringing together groups of scientists from specific disciplines,
fostering exchanges of ideas, forming research and technology
networks, identifying future direction and formulating strategic
Through beneficial collaborations with the Royal
Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and
Mining and the Institute of Physics it provides the main UK spine
of interaction for all those interested in Materials Chemistry
and related matters.
The Group and the Society membership is therefore
a major source of knowledge and opinion relating to metals and
alternative materials technologies; for this reason we wish to
register our interest and our willing to contribute to this enquiry.
 We note the well established major general
increase in the consumption of metals which began in the last
century, shows no sign of abating and is likely to be exacerbated
by high-volume emerging economies.
 We note also the potentially vulnerable position
of the UK in that present sources of metals required to fulfil
its own needs are largely external.
 Since metal recovery and processing are largely
energy intensive processes, it is also clear that there exists
a paradox in terms of national and world supply in relation to
burgeoning green and environmental issues.
 The Group and Society interest and expertise
impinge on Strategic Metals in a number of key areas, these are
 Metallurgists and other scientists working directly
in the metal sector and specifically those responsible for strategic
planning and new technologies; clearly these have a critical role
in both problem solving and deciding lead policy matters.
 An additional but critical area is that of alternative
materials; here, to give but a few examples, composites provide
alternative structural materials, hard coatings (such as diamond
and other plasma CVD methods) offer wear-resistance and bearing
surfaces, porous carbons for battery and other energy uses and
improved efficiency in metal dispersion for catalyst systems all
have a huge amount to offer in relieving pressure on essential
 Related to  are emerging alternative processing
technologies which increase efficiency in existing methods or
offer new routes to end products with less waste etc. A typical
example is low energy separation and extraction methods.
 Finally, there are related policy issues of
fundamental research, technology development and transfer which
in the mid to long term both improve greater efficiency in, and
provide viable alternatives to, present metal solutions.
 In short, it is our opinion that, though complex,
the problems associated with strategic metals are not insoluble
and that, amongst others, the membership of the SCI has a critical
contribution to make.
Professor Bob Bradley
(Chair SCI Materials Chemistry Group)
Dept. Of Materials
University of Oxford
16 December 2010