Physics Colloquium: The Story of Cobalt

Dr. David Keavney, Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State

Consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy all require increasing amounts of diverse elements from including cobalt, nickel, lithium, rare earths, and copper. Future applications based on complex oxide materials promise further reliance on rare earths, magnetic transition metals, and platinum group metals. The number of electric cars on the road worldwide is expected to grow from about 3 million in 2017 to 125 million by 2030, demand for wind energy is expected to increase nearly seven-fold by 2050, and solar photovoltaic by as much as ten-fold. In short, the world is facing an unprecedented restructuring of its energy systems and this is going to create unprecedented demand for minerals that will strain the world?s ability to produce them. Managing this transition to avoid significant negative impacts on land, labor, and the countries where these minerals are concentrated will take a global effort.

How can a physicist contribute to this international policy question and others? The U.S. State Department is bringing resource-rich nations together to share best practices on minerals management and governance to promote responsible mineral development and to meet the projected demand. Science policy informs these initiatives through better understanding and analytics of mineral reserves, resource flows, and lifecycle assessments of the impacts of building our new energy systems. I will discuss these questions in the context of my own transition from research to science policy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 3:15pm

Regents Hall, 109
3700 O St. NW

Event Type

Academic Events


Students, Faculty/Staff


Georgetown College, Physics




Dr. David Keavney, Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State

Event Contact Name

Prof. Kai Liu

Event Contact Email

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