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The transition toward a world of new material BIZ opportunities

Materials.Business Newsletter ⚙️ July 19th, 2023


The Post-Globalization times

Many rulers and business decision-makers fail to notice that the arisen challenges with the coronavirus crisis are unique. They are trying to return to the status quo ante. But it is vital to show all the leaders that the global society has experienced a collective challenge never faced by whole humanity before. That today the correct answers are unconventional. Required responses must be oriented towards a true “New Normal” instead of the old one. A situation in which we must match the new consciousness of our global fragility. A global economic recovery is a priority but considering some special and equally important issues according to the actual situation: An inclusive, equitable, and climate-centric economy recovery, a just retrieval. The pathway to the post-recovery decade and the arriving “Post-Globalization Era,” understood as a globalized economy in a hyper-connected and equalitarian society. A complex, kaleidoscopic situation, asking for complex solutions. Potpourris of multidisciplinary pieces of knowledge acting together. Most of the answers are based on the availability of emerging technologies brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution but inclusively managed. Many of them concerning materials and asset integrity.

The energy transition is a priority

The last version of the Sustainability Development Goals – SDGs -established by the United Nations in 2015-have been premonitory of the post-COVID-19 concerns. The SDGs can be seen as a good road map for social, economic, and environmental achievements in search of a peaceful future among ourselves and with nature. Watching on the SDG, some of them are directly associable with energy poverty. Besides, SDGs are interconnected, and energy poverty is the linkage. Heating and cooking are responsible for a millennial chain of difficulties starting with deforestation and following with climate change, health problems, biodiversity loss, forced migration, finishing with the current global warming. New sources and better ways of energy handling are crucial in the context of post-globalization. New and improved management of materials is necessary. Before, we analyzed some of the options of Corrosionists in front of three of the SDGs: “Quality education,” “Clean water and sanitation,” and “Affordable and clean energy.” But life is complex, and “No poverty,” “Zero hunger,” “Good health and well-being,” etc., are all interconnected, and energy transition is a general platform for attending all of them. In addition, the energy sector accounts for two-thirds of global carbon emissions, and yearly deaths by air pollutions are around seven million (currently, the total deaths by COVID-19 worldwide are less than a half). As a result, energy transition is more urgent than ever. A sample of required acceleration is happening with the hydrogen energization. For some decades, trends showed that developments could accomplish the technology of H₂ as an energy source around 2050. However, recent news indicates that new requirements have to advance the target for about 20 years. The energy transition is becoming a common concern, but advances until now are slow. Today, the situation has changed. Some of the countries and many companies are getting to the starting line of the competition for all the opportunities that may emerge solving the challenges of energy switching. A big deal concerning green technologies. In other words, an incredible range of biz opportunities, including novelties about materials, corrosion processes, anticorrosive measurements, and asset integrity management.

What does the energy transition mean?

Worldwide sources of electricity in 2019 were coal (36%), natural gas (23%), hydroelectric power (16%), nuclear energy (10%), wind (5%), solar (3%), biomass (3%), oil (3%), and others (1%). 73% of the Indian and 65% of the Chinese electricity was produced by coal. Besides, the estimated annual growth of the global electricity generation over the next decades is about 2.5%. These figures indicate that CO₂ emissions will be a concern for years to come. However, the possibilities of a transition towards a truly green basket of energy sources are feasible. According to Prof. Mark Z. Jacobson of the Stanford University, it is possible to electrify everything using wind, water, and solar power. However, most of the current technologies still are expensive. Furthermore, some of them face challenges of sustainability. Starting point enabling energy transition is the existing infrastructure, which is partially functional. But the problem is that the valuable infrastructure is old, and the rest is obsolete. Infrastructure concerns the two sides of the business, offer & demand. Both are being required to undergo significant transformations that respond to those great demands mentioned above. Examples of the issues that have been considered are:



o Sources of energy: Non-conventional, renewable, greener (low carbon energies).

● Nuclear. ● Fission: Low-scale reactors. Fusion: Modular reactors, supply on demand. ▪ Blue & green. ● Solar, on and floating offshore (higher efficiency, lower cost, new designs, etc.). ● Wind, on and offshore. Tidal and wave. ● Biofuels. ● Waste. ▪ Geothermal. ▪ Hydraulic: Micro centrals.

Applications. ▪ Transportation (electric cars, aviation, ships) manufacturing (steel, cement, chemicals, etc.), agriculture, ICT, mining, etc. ▪ Homes and buildings: Inductive stoves, radiation heating systems, electric heat pumps, illumination, bioclimatic designs, etc. o Management. ▪ Higher efficiency: Architecture, smart cities, illumination (light-emitting diodes), heating, refrigeration, ventilation, isolation, conductivity, etc. ▪ Carbon dioxide sequestration, conversion, usage, and storage – CCUS.

o Storage: Long-term at low cost. ▪ Mechanical: Hydraulic, pneumatic, etc. ▪ Chemical. ▪ Electrochemical. Batteries: Li-ion, Na-ion, redox-flow, fuel cells (H₂, ethanol, etc.). o Transmission & distribution. ▪ Wireless. ▪ High-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems. ▪ Smart grids. ▪ Self-generation by homes and buildings. ▪ Virtual power plants.

A proper selection of current engineering material, but also new ones, will be required for handling known and new aggressive conditions: Different corrosives; higher temperatures and pressures; new materials for better conductivity and isolation; higher resistant materials; lighter or with better strength/weight ratio materials; new manufacturing processes; etc. In brief, significant challenges for materials resistance and a plethora of materials biz opportunities.

Invest, Invent, and Innovate

Looking through the whole panorama above described, it is possible to say that the Triple I (Invest-Invent-Innovate) is the key to a profound, faster, and cheaper transition. Money is critical to the implementation of existing technologies and research into new ones. Sustainability doesn’t mean sacrifice, and many green stock strategies offer good returns to the investors, most of which are related to the energy transition. Most advanced economies are also betting. For instance, the European Union is planning to increase lot the offshore energy production, with an estimated investment of USD $960.000 million. For its part, the Biden administration recognizes that every year of delay in implementing a national wind energy program cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Consequently, they conceive a program to avoid 78 million tons of CO₂ (equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road for a year) and creating 44.000 employees in the offshore wind sector.

However, patenting as a measure of invention and innovation demonstrates that the pace of new practical knowledge is not sufficient to meet current expectations in terms of the energy transition. Most of the new required technologies about offer and demand, incremental improvements on the current technologies or radical changes, are just budding, and the road to their presence in the market may take decades. Here, it is essential to remember the urgency and the global nature of the energy transition challenge. A summary of basic recommendations aimed at accelerating the pace of the required innovation includes:
● Acceleration of the pace of R&D with investment and flow of knowledge, under a complex and multidisciplinary perspective.
● Strengthening of the Triple Helix Industry-Government-Academy collaboration on the specific requirements, including small and large-scale initiatives.
● International collaborative and synergic networking at several levels.

Ultimately, a world of shinny suggestions and opportunities for material engineers, Corrosionists, and all the people in charge of caring for materials and assets in the times to come.
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Latest jobs in the industry this week

Engineer, Asset Integrity Inspection, Petroplan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Malaysia
Researcher, Corrosion Engineer, Alberta Innovates, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Cell Materials Engineering Technician, Tesla, Dartmouth, NS, USA
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