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Monthly Archives: April 2019

  • Keeping Your Cabinet Doors Shut with Magnets

    Magnets and Cabinets

    If you live in an older home that has settled, you may find that some of your cabinet doors won’t stay shut no matter what you try. Instead of ripping out and replacing all of your cabinets or packing your bags to move out, we have a quick, temporary fix to keep those pesky doors closed, with magnets, of course. Last year, we created a more permanent DIY: a magnetic cabinet latch solution using countersunk magnets. In this blog, we’re putting together a simple magnet hack that won’t involve power tools (or any tools, really!)

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  • How the Moon Got "Sunburns" - Solar Wind and Magnetic Fields

    magnetism

    As we all know, the Sun is powerful. So powerful that any object, person, or planet traveling through space is susceptible to the Sun’s damaging radiation. The latest victim to feel the Sun’s fiery wrath? Earth’s Moon.

    Researchers, using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission, have reported finding “distinctive patterns of darker and lighter swirls” on the Moon’s surface. When looking into it further, they have found that these swirls may actually be “sunburns.” Should we be worried about these sunburns on Earth?

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  • 4 Uses for Cylinder Magnets

    Uses of Cylinder Magnets

    If you’re looking for a large pull force relative to the size of a magnet, cylinder magnets are the way to go. Their shape gives you plenty of space to grasp the magnet, which comes in handy in various applications such as these four below:

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  • Bring Your Herbs Indoors with This DIY Magnetic Tea Tin Garden

    Magnetic herb garden

    If you’re looking to start a herb garden in a more controlled environment but don’t have enough shelf or counter space, we have the perfect solution for you: a magnetic herb garden. By using magnets to create your garden, you can save space and take advantage of certain sunny and shady spots by creating a customized, temporary herb garden on any magnetic surface that can be rearranged to suit your style! In this DIY blog, we use tea tins as planters, but you can use any container you’d like! Just be sure to get magnets that will support the weight of your containers.

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  • How Scientists Can Use “Greener” Methods to Extract Rare-Earth Metals for Your Smartphone

    Magnets and Smartphones

    Almost all technological products we use daily contain rare-earth metals, from computers and screens to networks, MRIs, batteries, magnets, automobiles, and various types of special optical glasses. They’re also used as a catalyst for oil refining. Because so many rare-earth metals are used in these products, the US Department of Education renamed these commonly found rare-earth metals “technology metals.”  

    A generic smartphone uses about 16 rare-earth metals alone! With nearly five billion people worldwide using a smartphone by 2020, that adds up to a lot of technology metals being used -- and this is just thinking about smartphones!

    Extracting rare earth metals is not only difficult, but it’s also harmful to the environment. With the need for technology metals rising, researchers are trying to find a greener way to extract them.

    Rare-Earth Metals Today

    While the name can be deceiving, rare-earth metals are actually abundant in the Earth’s crust. Although there are a lot of them, extraction is difficult due to their low concentration in minerals and ores, making them hard to get ahold of. This extraction is done usually through a mining process, which has a negative environmental impact -- including producing toxic wastewater as well as radioactive elements that seep into groundwater.

    Finding alternative ways for producing rare-earth metals would not only provide better environmental protection, but it could create smaller price fluctuations due to various import/export regulations. Right now, China produces more than 90% of rare-earth metals and has created limitations and restrictions on exports. If alternative ways to produce rare-earth metals are not found, the future of smartphones and basically all technology is in danger of disappearing and the Earth is in more environmental danger than it already is.

    A Greener Way to Produce Rare Earth Metals

    Previously, we talked about how scientists at the Idaho National Laboratory, Livermore National Laboratory,  Rutgers University, and UC Davis have reported finding a new way to produce rare-earth metals that can have less of a negative impact on the environment. They used organic bio-acids, such as acids from fruits, as well as byproducts of phosphoric acid production, known as phosphogypsum. As phosphoric acid is widely produced, using its byproduct as a way to extract rare-earth metals is a great option. They found that bio-acids did the best job, compared to various other acids, at separating rare-earth metals most efficiently. By eliminating the long and environmentally dangerous mining aspect of extraction, rare-earth metals can be used with less worry about the damage they can cause.

    Another Green Way

    Tech companies are aware that smartphone production is harming the environment. In Apple’s 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report, the company mentions its use of rare-earth metals and the environmental impact the process has. Apple has said it wants to use recycled rare-earth metals for its products and “one day extract nothing from the Earth.” Ultimately, the company wants to make products using only renewable resources or recycled material.

    Recently, they’ve introduced Daisy -- “the ultimate recycling robot”. Daisy recovers rare earth, tungsten, and Apple-specific aluminum alloys to be used in new products or returned to the market. They’re piloting ways to recover and reuse cobalt from their lithium-ion batteries and the rare-earth metals found in magnets. Read more about Apple’s robot Daisy and their other environmental initiatives here.

    Stay Up-to-Date on Rare-Earth Metals Through Apex

    For more information on break-through magnetic discoveries, browse our magnet in the news section or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

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