Anticipating critical materials implications from the Internet of Things (IOT): Potential stress on future supply chains from emerging data storage technologies

Elsevier, Sustainable Materials and Technologies Volume 15, April 2018, Pages 27-32
Authors: 
Anthony Y. Ku

Abstract

Over the past decade, raw material price spikes have called attention to the supply security of a variety of critical materials, including rhenium, rare earth elements, and helium. While market forces play an important role in creating and resolving these situations, transitions in technology also create step-changes in demand that increase or decrease the criticality of different materials. With an appropriate understanding of how materials are used in various applications, it is possible to explore the critical materials implications associated with the introduction of new technologies. Work is already underway to investigate and mitigate the materials impacts of emerging clean energy technologies related to solar power and energy storage. Rapid technological change is also being enabled by information technologies and the Internet of Things (IOT). Here, less work has been done around materials trends and their implications. This paper presents a case study around emerging technologies for data storage and what their implementation at mass scale (zettabyte, ZB) might mean for existing supply chains and market dynamics for certain critical materials.