Efforts on to exploit rare mineral fullerene

Efforts on to exploit  rare mineral fullerene
Highlights

Significant deposits of rare natural resource found in Mangampeta barytes mines 250 times tougher and 10...

  • Significant deposits of rare natural resource found in Mangampeta barytes mines
  • 250 times tougher and 10 times lighter than steel is only found in Russia
  • NML told to develop extracting process
A Ravindra Seshu effortsHyderabad: Efforts are being made by AP Mineral Development Corporation to intensify the exploration for fullerene (C60), a rare hard mineral that was reportedly spotted for the first time in the country somewhere in the overburden of barytes mines of Mangampet in Kadapa district. Five samples of the rare mineral collected from the Mangampeta area, analysed at the Stanford University indicated presence of C60, C70 and C84, suggesting the presence of naturally occurring fullerene in this part of the world. APMDC contacted the National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML) to conduct a study and develop on its own the mineral processing technology to make use of the strategic natural resource for the country. Russia is the only country having such technology, but it is not evincing any interest in sharing it with India. According to the preliminary studies, the presence of fullerene (C60) in Mangampeta barytes mines is quite prominent and its occurrence is in significant amounts. Since the results are promising, APMDC is making efforts in the direction of exploiting the strategic natural resource. Speaking to The Hans India, APMDC Managing Director MK Meena said, "It is imperative to launch extensive efforts including research and development to process and extract fullerene from the Mangampeta barytes mine area. In view of the non availability of technology and expertise needed within the country, it becomes imperative to go in for international collaboration to strengthen indigenous efforts and expedite the studies to realise the goals over a reasonable time frame". The Corporation asked the NML to start research on the mineral and how could it be used for the benefit of the country, he added. Fullerene is a form of carbon with large spheroid molecules consisting of hollow cage of 60 or more atoms. The mineral, which is said to be 250 times tougher and 10 times lighter than steel, is used in aerospace, nano technology, solar power and it is available only in Russia till now. Fullerene is costlier than gold and commands a price of 45,000 for 10 grams. A total of 1,050 rock samples were collected from the mine sections at different depths and also from the mine dumps through systematic rock sampling. And a possibility of presence of natural fullerene in similar geographical conditions is not ruled out.
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