Sciencemadness Discussion Board

quick vote: gallium. a good investment?

thereelstory - 1-5-2010 at 18:43

i am seeing a kg being advertised for 565 dollars. claim is 99.99 pure. Does anyone have any links or ideas on where to purchase it cheaper?

JohnWW - 2-5-2010 at 04:09

The stuff occurs as Ga2O3 in raw bauxite to the extent of something like 50 ppm, and is extracted in the refining of bauxite into pure Al2O3 by dissolution and reprecipitation by varying the pH, which also removes Fe2O3 and SiO2. There is a fairly unlimited world supply of bauxite, so it cannot increase in price except with general inflation, and even with this exhausted Al2O3 (with Ga2O3) could still be extracted from clays.

Mr. Wizard - 2-5-2010 at 08:56

If you think world trade and commerce is going to improve, and more people are going to be buying more goods with inflated currency, then it will be a good investment.

On the down side, finding somebody who will want to buy a kilo of unknown quality Gallium from a complete stranger might be tough. Think about it, how many people in the world really want a kilo of Gallium? Are there Gallium brokers? Will you have to pay to have the Gallium assayed when you sell it? What if the material you bought isn't pure? The people who use Gallium are more likely to want to buy from established processors just to avoid risk and surprises.

Then there is the aspect of a receding need for this material in a diminished world economy as we struggle with increasing debt in both Europe and the US.

If you think it will be a much needed commodity in some new breakthrough technology, such as hydrogen production from aluminum ingots powering cars, for example, then you are investing for a reason; taking an educated risk. I toyed with the idea of investing in Niobium years ago anticipating it's use in superconductors, but I dithered enough to see a new family of superconductors come out and I quickly forgot about it. They also cancelled the big superconducting super collider in Texas.

Ultimately the prices will go up due to erosion of currency prices. As an 'investment' per se I would stick to metals or commodities that are more easily sold and traded. Another metallic commodity that looks promising is the rare earth metals used in phosphors, and super magnets, supposedly in short supply and mainly mined in China. The thing to remember is people with mines and resources don't really want 'the world' to know how much they have, so there could be many sources of rare earth elements.

Just my random thoughts on it.

[Edited on 2-5-2010 by Mr. Wizard]

densest - 2-5-2010 at 12:17

It's relatively costly to extract Ga from the spent Al liquors, so as those processes improve the cost will go down. Ga is almost entirely used in the semiconductor industry either for GaAs ultra high frequency transistors or in LEDs. There it must be very pure - 99.999, 99.9999, 99.99999%. There are relatively few buyers and they require a traceable raw material so your liquid Ga might be.... an illiquid investment.

I think that the switch away from incandescent lights to others, such as LEDs, will keep the demand up for a long time. The US military is pursuing energy conservation very hard which will create even more demand for efficient lighting, for instance. They are betting that oil will run out, become ruinously expensive, or be controlled by hostiles at the sources. They're also indirectly betting that human-generated global warming has been adequately proved so reducing their impact is in the national interest.

JohnWW - 2-5-2010 at 14:41

For GaAs transistors (or doped Si or Ge ones), it is the As that is much more likely to become scarce due to depletion of easily extractable mineral sources, not the Ga. As is much less abundant, being usually found in combination with transition metals in lode ores along with sulfides and selenides.

As well as in GaAs semiconductors for transistors, Ga is also used as a substitute for Hg in high-temperature (above 30ºC) thermometers, and as a substitute for Hg in making Al or Mg amalgams for carrying out reductions in organic chemistry (due to lack of formation of a permanent oxide layer, with the Ga usually able to be recovered).

(And As is used in large quantities in the wood preservative "Tanalin", a soluble mixture of CuCrO4 and Cu3(AsO4)2 that bonds to the -OH groups in cellulose. As and its compounds were formerly used in large amounts in various pesticides including the insecticide Pb3(AsO4)2 (which was sprayed onto fruit as a fine suspension), but is hardly used for this now due to toxic residues which have to be washed off fruit.).

[Edited on 3-5-10 by JohnWW]

12AX7 - 2-5-2010 at 15:12

White LEDs are based on GaN, so arsenic won't be a big deal there. GaN FETs and GaAs and SiGe PHEMTs are big radio products, but I don't see their demand ever being higher than plain old silicon, which is still too useful to give up in the next decade at least.

At the moment, with silicon transistor cost rapidly tending towards zero, designers are concentrating on highly parallel ways of using ever-smaller transistors in momentously greater numbers. Although clock frequency seems to have peaked in the 2-10GHz band, chips will continue to get more powerful. For this reason, I think silicon will continue to dominate the computer market.

Tim "not one arse-n-ate got the joke"

densest - 2-5-2010 at 17:06

Arsenic is pretty common in copper, silver, nickel, etc. ores. I don't have numbers here. Recovery of precious metals from ores has to deal with As. Areas of the world have small but toxic quantities of arsenic in groundwater, so removing it would produce two products to sell :D I don't see it getting expensive because of rarity soon.

unionised - 3-5-2010 at 06:27

At the moment there only seems to be one person selling gallium on Ebay in the UK. You could undercut them but the shipping would be a problem.
It would be possible to repackage the stuff as 100 10 gram lots and sell them but it would take a long time- there just aren't that many element collectors.
I think it's a good price, but not a good investment.

thankyou for your response, however>

thereelstory - 3-5-2010 at 20:12

-content that has the precedent to start a shitshow has been removed-


[Edited on 6-5-10 by The_Davster]

Sedit - 3-5-2010 at 21:08

All I give a shit about , and Im sure many others who are sober enough to not be talking like me, is concerned about is if you get it......please use it in the place of Hg in some form of amalgum and see what results. If needed I can give you a list of legal alternatives to practice as much as you want without fear.

If you do so 500$ is a great investment for everyone.

[Edited on 6-5-10 by The_Davster]

The WiZard is In - 6-5-2010 at 09:06

Quote: Originally posted by thereelstory  
i am seeing a kg being advertised for 565 dollars. claim is 99.99 pure. Does anyone have any links or ideas on where to purchase it cheaper?

Invest in what women sit on — it never goes out of style and
demand is insatiable. The only problem is that it comes with an
extremely complicated and expensive to maintain life support system.