The concept of Peak Oil is a common topic of discussion focusing on how global oil production may peak and then begin to decline sometime in the not too distant future. But few people have heard of the concept of Peak Phosphorus and considered its implications for a global agricultural system highly dependent on fertilizers made with phosphorus. There are growing concerns about limitations to the availability of other critical elements such as helium, neodymium and lithium. These elements have received little public attention, but they are critical for the production of everything from computers and cell phones to wind turbines and electric vehicles. The recent article “Peak Everything?” published by Reason Magazine outlined emerging challenges such as worldwide famine and the collapse of green-technology development due to insufficient amounts of reasonably priced phosphorus, lithium, and neodymium.

Sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence, Science and Technology Division, the workshop will analyze three specific non-renewable resources - phosphorus, lithium, and neodymium - along with an overview of DOE’s strategy on isotopic helium. The purpose of this workshop is to discuss the availability of these materials and strategies for extending their availability and developing substitutes. Experts in each of these resource areas will be challenged to dig below the surface to examine the geopolitical, environmental, social and economic issues related to these critical elements. A draft agenda is attached (subject to change).

Please find the following presentations below under the heading 'Event Documents'

Eric Sander; The Multi-Cycle Generalized Verhuslt Model for Making Production Projections for Nonrenewable Resources

Dr. Irving Mintzer; Lithium: Challenges and Opportunities

Jack Lifton; Supply Projection Scenarios, Neodymium

Dr. Karl A. Gschneidner, Jr.; Neodymium: Supply, Demand, Substitution, and Recycling

Dr. Joseph Glaser; Crisis Management: US Government Response to the 3HE Shortage

Dr. James Elser; Phosphorus as a critical material

Dr. Albert Davis; Lithium

Dr. Diana Bauer; Critical Materials Strategy