As a result of our work in a number of niche markets we are able to offer cosultancy services. These are of two types :
1) Pure consultancy. You are welcome to hire us for projects in our core areas of competency. We have worked for a number of companies on scandium supplies and mining techniques for example. We are also able to supply consulting engineers for those working with aluminium scandium, whether production of the master alloy or of finished products.
Our extensive knowledge of this tiny corner of the world means we can also help with the welding of aluminium, contact and negotiation with patent holders on various Sc containing alloys and other such issues.
2) The research skills that have made us such specialists in scandium can also be turned to other metals and materials. We can and do accept commission only or time based contracts to investigate and place scrap of all kinds. Our most interesting work has been in the placing of waste streams with those who can make economic use of them, thus saving disposal costs and also generating revenue. Such things as zirconium fines, broken night sight lenses, electronic production waste and even crystals from magnetic resonance imaging machines.
As always our expertise is in the exotic. There's not much point in talking to us about scrap steel : although we know what to do with it so do 25,000 other people. Similarly with copper or lead or something equally common. But if you have niobium scrap contaminated with molybdenum, zirconium and tungsten ( an unlikely occurence, but there was a Soviet alloy like that ) then we are the people who know. And for other such wastes and scraps we are the right people to go and find out for you.
While we are specialists in scandium, we have and do deal with others as well. If you are interested in buying or selling any of the below, please contact us .
Zirconium niobium alloys.
Rare Earth Oxides.
As a rough indication, the more exotic or odd a material, the more likely we are to be the right people for you.
Future Scandium Supplies
Future Scandium Supplies.
Current world production of scandium oxide is in the 2,000 kg per year range. Current consumption is in the 5,000 kg per year range, and growing quickly. The balance is met from Soviet era stocks. Obviously these will run out at some point, a few years hence.
Scandium can be extracted from a number of sources. Thortveitite and kolbeckite are two minerals which are sufficiently scandium rich for extraction to be potentially economic.There are at least another 800 minerals where Sc is present in small quantities.
It can also be extracted from tantalum residues, tungsten processing wastes, tin slags and a variety of other such industrial waste streams, and it is sometimes ( as with most Chinese production ) recovered from rare earth ores. The US and the Soviets both historically recovered from the red mud of uranium production, although neither do so now. There is also a certain excitement about extraction from Australian nickel laterites. Tests seem to indicate that the Sc comes out in solution along with the Ni and Co as a result of the acid leaching process used. Unfortunately those large companies that are pursuing the process are having problems extracting the Sc economically, and the smaller ones who are most excited by their scandium potential are unlikely to ever open, given the uneconomic size of their nickel deposits.
We have carried out extensive research oursleves into the optimal method of scandium extraction for the future. We are in the process of canvassing potential partners and financiers for the construction of the extraction plant using that optimal method. There is absolutely no technical or engineering reason why scandium cannot be produced in whatever quantity industry may desire, and at about half the current cost.
We would of course be delighted to talk to anyone who wishes to join us in this project.
Scandia Stabilised Zirconia
Scandia Stabilised Zirconia
We do not produce this material. We do provide scandium oxide to those who do make it.
So if you are looking for ScSZ we can point you in the right direction, and if you are looking for scandia with which to make it, we can help.
The main use is in certain designs of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell ( SOFC ). ScSZ has the highest ionic conductivity of the varied alternatives for cathodes for low temperature SOFC's.
We are told that the optimal material is 9 mole % Sc2O3, 2 % Y2O3 balance zirconia.
It's too early in the development of this technology to know whether ScSZ, or even SOFC's and fuel cells themselves will really make it out into the big wide world of commercial production.
We have an estimate of future consumption of scandia in fuel cells and it came from a senior gentleman in SECA, the US Govt body promoting the technology. As the estimate is for cumulative usage to 2025 of between 500 kg and 2,000 tonnes Sc2O3, it appears that we are not the only people unsure about the future success of the technology.
A commonly expressed concern of those who look at ScSZ as a material for fuel cells is the future supply of scandium. Even moderate success for SOFC's would outstrip current production of scandia by orders of magnitude. We can allay such fears. There is no engineering nor technological reason why scandia cannot be produced in 5 tonne, 50 tonne, 500 tonne per annum quantities at half the current price. It's just a matter of demand being there before we go and build the factory.
(Or, for our transatlantic cousins, aluminum scandium.)
For more information on the background you should visit Jostein Royset's excellent Aluminium Scandium page.
Essentially Soviet and US metallurgists looked at Al Sc alloys in the 1970's and 80's. The Soviets went the Al Sc route and the US went to Al Li. The subsequent collapse of the USSR led to a company, Ashurst, picking up the Al Sc products, and introducing them into the commercial mainstream in the US. ( The full story of Ashurst is simply quite wonderful, including, as we have been told, investments in Prime Bank Guarantee funds, flooded mines, golden options in offshore accounts and at least one highly publicised attempted auto-castration. But enough gossip about a now bankrupt competitor .)
From the initial products in baseball bats and bicycle frames there are now a number of different applications : handguns, lacrosse sticks, tent poles, aircraft, weld wires and so on.
Sporting goods are the current majority of Al Sc used. This will change in the near future as the aerospace companies come to the end of their approval process ( we have been involved in supplying one such for the past 7 years. We're rather happy that more care and attention is paid to the long term suitability of an alloy for aircraft wings than one for baseball bats ). For example, one side effect of adding Sc to Al Mg alloys is that when made into wing surfaces, they do not need to be painted or laquered, as with the more traditional alloys. This saves some 1 – 2 % of the weight of the entire plane. Other researchers are working on weld wires for such Al Mg Sc alloys. Current results indicate that it will be possible to weld airframes, rather than rivet them, with further great weight savings.
There are a number of further products being looked at : engine heads, car bodies : just about anything that is made from 5000 or 7000 series alloys.
In our early days in the scandium business we were greatly encouraged by the comment of one of the head researchers at a major aluminium company : “ If you sat down with a blank piece of paper and tried to design the perfect alloying addition for aluminum, you would be describing scandium “.
Aluminium Scandium master alloy is normally prepared as 2 % Sc in 8 – 9 kg ingots. We can provide this in 50 – 10,000 kg lots, delivered anywhere in the world.
We have also made other concentrations, including 1 % , 10 % and 20 % Sc.
Whether you're looking for research or production amounts, you really do want to be talking to the world's experts in scandium : The Low Hanging Fruit Company.
We don't claim to supply all of the Al Sc used in the world, but we do know all of the producing factories, as well as produce our own. And all of the major consumers have or do buy from us. That's a depth of experience you won't find anywhere else.
We can and do manufacture any purity that customers require. 99.0 % all the way up to 99.999%.
( We should point out that we do not measure by Total Rare Earth Oxide or TREO content. If we say that something is 99.995 % pure, we mean that all contaminants other than scandium and oxygen are less than 50 ppm in total .)
There are two purities that we continually produce, as there is a consistent demand for them.
This is supplied in 10 kg to 500 kg quantities. We can also, at greater expense, provide 1 kg samples. It is suitable for the production of aluminium scandium master alloy and for scandia stabilised zirconia.
We have supplied this material to many of those making both products, and we use it ourselves in our own production of aluminium scandium.
This is available in 2 kg to 25 kg quantities. The above purity is what we guarantee it to be. It usually tests out at 99.997 – 99.998 %. Uses include research, semiconductors, lasers and the high intensity light business.
We have recently been told by an impeccable source that our provision of scandium oxide is responsible for fully 50 % of the artificial light emanating from earth and visible from satellites. Please don't tell any astronomers, as they tend to get a little agitated about light pollution.
We are always interested in talking to people who need scandium oxide, who think they might have a future need, or who have material that they wish to sell.
We can supply scandium metal in just about any quantity or purity you might require.
As there are no commercial uses for the metal we don't expect people to be beating down the doors for it. Most of the requests we receive are from people who are mistaken : what they really want is the oxide.
If you are looking for a few grammes for research purposes, we would recommend one of the catalogue suppliers. Yes, they're expensive, but you get just the few grammes of the purity you require quickly. E Bay can also be a useful source.
If there is anyone out there who is thinking of using scandium metal in larger quantities, there are two main sources.
We can make it for you. 99.0 %, 99.5 %....99.995 %. 10 kg, 500 kg. Just let us know the purity and volume requirements and if possible your shipping schedule, and we will be able to quote you a price.
It would also be helpful to both of us if you told us your application. Then we can advise you on whether you actually need the oxide rather than the metal.
The second source is to take advantage of the overproduction of scandium metal in the dying days of the Soviet Union. Exactly why this overproduction occurred would require an exhaustive discourse on Marxist economics. Suffice it to say that there was at one point a Scandium Futures Exchange in Moscow. After some 90 trades, all of which were sales of physical material into stock, with no such purchases, it closed.
There is, in relation to the consumption of scandium metal, a lot of this material still floating around the marketplace. We can source it for you. Some of it is oxidised, purity and form are variable, but if you are looking for relatively cheap scandium metal units this is the source for you.
You will sometimes see that scandium metal is used in the space industry. Well, partly.One version of one Soviet reactor for satellites used small amounts of Sc metal. They made four, and aren't making any more.
Scandium metal is used in the lighting industry, as a precursor for scandium iodide. To ensure quality control the iodide manufacturers make their own metal. Other than that we know of no regular commercial usage for scandium metal. Information to the contrary will be gleefully received.
Who Are We ?
The Low Hanging Fruit Company .
Yes, you're correct, it is an odd name for a company. That's because we are an odd sort of company. We are the only people in the world who specialise in scandium and related products.
The phrase comes from an American piece of engineering slang. When a new production line has been designed and set up, it must then be run in test mode to work the bugs and glitches out. This process is known as “ plucking the low hanging fruit”.
This is what we do with respect to scandium. From the mid 1990's, more people have been using more scandium in more products. From high intensity lights, through various laser crystals, to aluminium scandium alloys and the future uses of scandia stabilised zirconia and scandium nitride : we are the people who know who's using it, why they're using it, in what quantities they're using it, and who produces it and what you can expect to pay for scandium. We can also supply you with scandium, scandium oxide, aluminium scandium master alloy and can point you to where to get the more complex products.
In effect, plucking all of the interesting information out of the growing worldwide scandium industry.
We have offices in California, Russia and Portugal, suppliers in China, Kazakhstan, Russia, the UK and the US, and customers in Germany, Austria, Japan, Thailand, S Africa, Taiwan, South Korea, the US and the UK.
So if you are interested in scandium, produce it, consume it, or are thinking of doing either of those things, you really need to be talking to us : The Low Hanging Fruit Company, the world's only specialists in the scandium market.