Scientists at a British university recently conducted an experiment to find out what materials are used to make a phone. For the experiment, they put a phone into a high-tech gadget - a blender. Scientists at the University of Plymouth blended a mobile phone to dust and then conducted a chemical analysis of the dissolved remains in order to figure out what quantities of rare or conflict elements go into making a phone.
"Project aims to show the quantities of rare or so-called 'conflict' elements in each phone and encourage greater recycling rates," wrote the University of Plymouth, sharing a video of the phone being blended.
"To conduct the experiment, the researchers took the blended phone and mixed it at almost 500 degrees Celsius with a powerful oxidizer, sodium peroxide. They were then able to do a detailed analysis of the resulting solution in acid to determine its precise chemical contents," they added.
What did they find out?
According to Geek, results showed the phone used in the tests contained 33g of iron, 13g of silicon, and 7g of chromium, along with 90mg of silver and 36mg of gold. Researchers also found a number of "critical elements" including 900mg of tungsten and 70mg of cobalt and molybdenum, as well as 160mg of neodymium and 30mg of praseodymium.
To conduct the experiment, the researchers took the blended phone and mixed it at almost 500°C with a powerful oxidizer, sodium peroxide. They were then able to do a detailed analysis of the resulting solution in acid to determine its precise chemical contents. #BSW19pic.twitter.com/Fv3Kbfg8Tf— University of Plymouth (@PlymUni) March 14, 2019
"We rely increasingly on our mobile phones but how many of us actually think what is behind the screen? When you look the answer is often tungsten and cobalt from conflict zones in Africa," said Dr Arjan Dijkstra, geologist from the University of Plymouth's School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. "There are also rare elements such as neodymium, praseodymium, gadolinium and dysprosium, not to mention quantities of gold, silver and other high value elements. All of these need to be mined by extracting high value ores, which is putting a significant strain on the planet."
On Twitter, the experiment elicited mixed reactions and even made it into a viral Twitter Moment.
Why not ask the manufacturer what's in it probably will take an email to get your answer.. or just google it lol— Sunny (@2MoreRep) March 15, 2019
My primary answer would be that there's nothing like finding out for one's self.— Caro Quinn (@minuetbynight) March 14, 2019
But I'm also not certain a manufacturer would necessarily want to divulge such info or, in fact, even know precise measurements of what goes into the assembled components of their products :)
Haven't all youtubers done this before??— SUPPORT👏 WAY👏 V👏 (@reeeen_96) March 14, 2019
Wow. This is why as consumers we must stop updating them and put pressure on the makers to make them last longer. It is through their lack of poor battery life that we have to update them at the rate we do. If we put pressure on them they will make positive changes.— Diane McPhee AU (@DianeMcPheeAU) March 15, 2019
I respect the desire to encourage more recycling.— Victor Overall (@JamChrisJoy) March 14, 2019
I also hope this inspires the production of phones that will be reliable and valuable longer.
What do you think of the experiment? Let us know using the comments section below.
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