Elements [world Service]

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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2014071220140713 (WS)

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table.

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the p...

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the p...

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table.

2014071920140720 (WS)

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the p...

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table.

2014071920140720 (WS)

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the p...

08/02/20142014020920140212 (WS)

We examine how the basic building blocks of the universe - such as carbon, tin and lithiu...

We examine how the basic building blocks of the universe - such as carbon, tin and lithium - fit in to our economy.

08/02/20142014020920140212 (WS)

We examine how the basic building blocks of the universe - such as carbon, tin and lithium - fit in to our economy.

We examine how the basic building blocks of the universe - such as carbon, tin and lithiu...

15/02/201420140216

We examine how the basic building blocks of the universe - elements such as carbon, tin and helium - fit in to our economy.

15/02/201420140216

We examine how the basic building blocks of the universe - elements such as carbon, tin and helium - fit in to our economy.

Boron20151121

Boron20151121

Boron is the mineral from the Wild West that stops glass from shattering and stops bullets in their tracks. Presenter Laurence Knight visits the Dixon Glass works to see why borosilicate glass is perfect for making chemistry equipment and much of the glassware we use in our day-to-day lives. Professor Andrea Sella demonstrates how this element puts the flub into flubber. Colin Roberson, founder of body armour firm Advanced Defence Materials, explains why being shot is like standing at the bottom of a volcano. And the BBC's Kim Gittleson travels to the deserts of California where the modern-day story of boron first began.

Boron2015112120151122 (WS)

The mineral from the Wild West that toughens glass and stops bullets in their tracks.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Boron is the mineral from the Wild West that stops glass from shattering and stops bullets in their tracks. Presenter Laurence Knight visits the Dixon Glass works to see why borosilicate glass is perfect for making chemistry equipment and much of the glassware we use in our day-to-day lives. Professor Andrea Sella demonstrates how this element puts the flub into flubber. Colin Roberson, founder of body armour firm Advanced Defence Materials, explains why being shot is like standing at the bottom of a volcano. And the BBC's Kim Gittleson travels to the deserts of California where the modern-day story of boron first began.

Boron2015112120151123 (WS)

The mineral from the Wild West that toughens glass and stops bullets in their tracks.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Boron is the mineral from the Wild West that stops glass from shattering and stops bullets in their tracks. Presenter Laurence Knight visits the Dixon Glass works to see why borosilicate glass is perfect for making chemistry equipment and much of the glassware we use in our day-to-day lives. Professor Andrea Sella demonstrates how this element puts the flub into flubber. Colin Roberson, founder of body armour firm Advanced Defence Materials, explains why being shot is like standing at the bottom of a volcano. And the BBC's Kim Gittleson travels to the deserts of California where the modern-day story of boron first began.

Boron20151121

The mineral from the Wild West that toughens glass and stops bullets in their tracks.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Boron is the mineral from the Wild West that stops glass from shattering and stops bullets in their tracks. Presenter Laurence Knight visits the Dixon Glass works to see why borosilicate glass is perfect for making chemistry equipment and much of the glassware we use in our day-to-day lives. Professor Andrea Sella demonstrates how this element puts the flub into flubber. Colin Roberson, founder of body armour firm Advanced Defence Materials, explains why being shot is like standing at the bottom of a volcano. And the BBC's Kim Gittleson travels to the deserts of California where the modern-day story of boron first began.

Boron2015112120151122 (WS)
20151123 (WS)

The mineral from the Wild West that toughens glass and stops bullets in their tracks.

is the mineral from the Wild West that stops glass from shattering and stops bullets in their tracks. Presenter Laurence Knight visits the Dixon Glass works to see why borosilicate glass is perfect for making chemistry equipment and much of the glassware we use in our day-to-day lives. Professor Andrea Sella demonstrates how this element puts the flub into flubber. Colin Roberson, founder of body armour firm Advanced Defence Materials, explains why being shot is like standing at the bottom of a volcano. And the BBC's Kim Gittleson travels to the deserts of California where the modern-day story of boron first began.

Boron2015112120151122 (WS)

The mineral from the Wild West that toughens glass and stops bullets in their tracks.

Boron2015112120151123 (WS)

The mineral from the Wild West that toughens glass and stops bullets in their tracks.

Bromine (Br) - Elements2015030520150308 (WS)

Bromine-based flame retardants are all over your home, but are they a health risk?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Bromine puts out fires - both in the home and in the heart. But despite its reputation as an anti-aphrodisiac, this chemical element's biggest use is in fire retardants, found in everything from your sofa to your radio. But do these bromine-based chemicals pose a risk to your health? Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry professor Andrea Sella of University College London, about his own childhood encounter with this noxious red liquid. Justin speaks to chemicals industry analyst Laura Syrett of Industrial Minerals about why she thinks bromine may have been the victim of 'chemophobia' - an irrational public prejudice against chemicals. And, the BBC's Mark Lobel travels to the world's biggest source of bromine, the Dead Sea, to see the bromine works of Israel Chemicals Ltd, and comes face-to-face with some of the company's allegedly dangerous products in the hands of deputy head Anat Tal.
(Picture: Dead Sea, showing southern evaporation ponds to right; Credit: Google)

Bromine (Br) - Elements20150305

Bromine-based flame retardants are all over your home, but are they a health risk?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Bromine puts out fires - both in the home and in the heart. But despite its reputation as an anti-aphrodisiac, this chemical element's biggest use is in fire retardants, found in everything from your sofa to your radio. But do these bromine-based chemicals pose a risk to your health? Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry professor Andrea Sella of University College London, about his own childhood encounter with this noxious red liquid. Justin speaks to chemicals industry analyst Laura Syrett of Industrial Minerals about why she thinks bromine may have been the victim of 'chemophobia' - an irrational public prejudice against chemicals. And, the BBC's Mark Lobel travels to the world's biggest source of bromine, the Dead Sea, to see the bromine works of Israel Chemicals Ltd, and comes face-to-face with some of the company's allegedly dangerous products in the hands of deputy head Anat Tal.
(Picture: Dead Sea, showing southern evaporation ponds to right; Credit: Google)

Caesium (Cs) - Elements2014102520141026 (WS)

The caesium-based atomic clock has redefined the very meaning of time.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The atomic clock runs on caesium, and has redefined the very meaning of time. But it has also introduced a bug into timekeeping that affects everything from computerised financial markets to electricity grids, and satellite navigation to the Greenwich Meridian.

Justin Rowlatt travels to the birthplace of modern time, the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, England, to speak to Krzysztof Szymaniec, the keeper of the 'Caesium Fountain', and Leon Lobo, the man charged with disseminating time to the UK. He also hears from Felicitas Arias, director of time at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures in Paris, about plans to abolish the 'leap second'.

And, the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, explains why even the atomic clock can never hope to provide an absolute measure of time.

Caesium (Cs) - Elements20141025

The caesium-based atomic clock has redefined the very meaning of time.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The atomic clock runs on caesium, and has redefined the very meaning of time. But it has also introduced a bug into timekeeping that affects everything from computerised financial markets to electricity grids, and satellite navigation to the Greenwich Meridian.

Justin Rowlatt travels to the birthplace of modern time, the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, England, to speak to Krzysztof Szymaniec, the keeper of the 'Caesium Fountain', and Leon Lobo, the man charged with disseminating time to the UK. He also hears from Felicitas Arias, director of time at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures in Paris, about plans to abolish the 'leap second'.

And, the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, explains why even the atomic clock can never hope to provide an absolute measure of time.

Calcium (Ca) - Elements2015022620150301 (WS)

The great structural element - both in the natural world and in modern engineering

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Calcium is the great structural element. It is the basis of much of the great architecture in nature as well as many of the incredible structures made by man. Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry supremo Andrea Sella at the Royal Institution in London, where calcium was first isolated two centuries ago. He visits the obscure birthplace of the biggest modern-day use of calcium - cement - and sees that use in action at London's giant Crossrail construction project. And, if that weren't enough, we also hear from Professor Serena Best of Cambridge University about how she is trying to replicate the way the human body uses calcium to construct bone.

Calcium (Ca) - Elements20150226

The great structural element - both in the natural world and in modern engineering

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Calcium is the great structural element. It is the basis of much of the great architecture in nature as well as many of the incredible structures made by man. Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry supremo Andrea Sella at the Royal Institution in London, where calcium was first isolated two centuries ago. He visits the obscure birthplace of the biggest modern-day use of calcium - cement - and sees that use in action at London's giant Crossrail construction project. And, if that weren't enough, we also hear from Professor Serena Best of Cambridge University about how she is trying to replicate the way the human body uses calcium to construct bone.

Carbon20140223

Carbon-based energy sources underpin the world economy. Presenter Justin Rowlatt visits London's Science Museum to hear how coal, oil and gas sparked the industrial revolution and have led to the unprecedented standards of living we enjoy today.

Yet, as everyone knows, our fossil fuels will not last forever. And most scientists accept that our carbon dioxide emissions risk causing havoc to the world's climate and its oceans.

But here's something you may not know. Could a new carbon revolution - this time based on carbon materials - help wean mankind off its dangerous addiction to hydrocarbons? Justin visits two cutting-edge research centres - the National Composites Centre, and Manchester Graphene - to find out whether solutions to the planet's carbon crunch may be at hand.

Carbon20140223

-based energy sources underpin the world economy. Presenter Justin Rowlatt visits London's Science Museum to hear how coal, oil and gas sparked the industrial revolution and have led to the unprecedented standards of living we enjoy today.

Yet, as everyone knows, our fossil fuels will not last forever. And most scientists accept that our carbon dioxide emissions risk causing havoc to the world's climate and its oceans.

But here's something you may not know. Could a new carbon revolution - this time based on carbon materials - help wean mankind off its dangerous addiction to hydrocarbons? Justin visits two cutting-edge research centres - the National Composites Centre, and Manchester Graphene - to find out whether solutions to the planet's carbon crunch may be at hand.

Carbon20140223

Could a new carbon revolution help wean mankind off its reliance on fossil fuels?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Carbon-based energy sources underpin the world economy. Presenter Justin Rowlatt visits London's Science Museum to hear how coal, oil and gas sparked the industrial revolution and have led to the unprecedented standards of living we enjoy today.

Yet, as everyone knows, our fossil fuels will not last forever. And most scientists accept that our carbon dioxide emissions risk causing havoc to the world's climate and its oceans.

Could a new carbon revolution - this time based on carbon materials - help wean mankind off its dangerous addiction to hydrocarbons? Justin visits two cutting-edge research centres - the National Composites Centre, and Manchester Graphene - to find out whether solutions to the planet's carbon crunch may be at hand.

Chlorine (Cl)2014071220140713 (WS)

More than just a chemical used in swimming pools.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Chlorine is more than just a chemical used in swimming pools. This poisonous green gas is the great enabling element of the chemicals industry, used in creating your clothes, computer chips, medicines and flooring. Justin Rowlatt travels to Thurrock to tour the chlor-alkali plant of Industrial Chemicals Ltd with chief chemist David Compton, as he discovers the brutal process of extracting chlorine from the most mundane of raw materials - table salt. We hear from regular contributor Professor Andrea Sella of University College London who explains the many uses of chlorine. Finally Laurence Knight speaks to Mike Smith, an expert in the chlorine market from consultants IHS, about why the bursting of Spain's property bubble might put up the price of soap there.

Chlorine (Cl)20140712

More than just a chemical used in swimming pools.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Chlorine is more than just a chemical used in swimming pools. This poisonous green gas is the great enabling element of the chemicals industry, used in creating your clothes, computer chips, medicines and flooring. Justin Rowlatt travels to Thurrock to tour the chlor-alkali plant of Industrial Chemicals Ltd with chief chemist David Compton, as he discovers the brutal process of extracting chlorine from the most mundane of raw materials - table salt. We hear from regular contributor Professor Andrea Sella of University College London who explains the many uses of chlorine. Finally Laurence Knight speaks to Mike Smith, an expert in the chlorine market from consultants IHS, about why the bursting of Spain's property bubble might put up the price of soap there.

Chromium2015070920150711 (WS)

The metal of modernity - think Harleys and skyscrapers - chromium also has a dark side.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The metal of modernity, spawning icons from the Chrysler Building to the Harley Davidson, this colourful element is the key ingredient in stainless steel and leather. But chromium also has a dark side - one brought to public attention by Erin Brockovich. Presenter Justin Rowlatt speaks to Erin - the real Erin - and he also travels to the Savoy Hotel in London and to the world's first steel town of Sheffield, to tell the story of chromium's biggest modern use.

Chromium2015070920150713 (WS)

The metal of modernity - think Harleys and skyscrapers - chromium also has a dark side.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The metal of modernity, spawning icons from the Chrysler Building to the Harley Davidson, this colourful element is the key ingredient in stainless steel and leather. But chromium also has a dark side - one brought to public attention by Erin Brockovich. Presenter Justin Rowlatt speaks to Erin - the real Erin - and he also travels to the Savoy Hotel in London and to the world's first steel town of Sheffield, to tell the story of chromium's biggest modern use.

Chromium20150709

The metal of modernity - think Harleys and skyscrapers - chromium also has a dark side.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The metal of modernity, spawning icons from the Chrysler Building to the Harley Davidson, this colourful element is the key ingredient in stainless steel and leather. But chromium also has a dark side - one brought to public attention by Erin Brockovich. Presenter Justin Rowlatt speaks to Erin - the real Erin - and he also travels to the Savoy Hotel in London and to the world's first steel town of Sheffield, to tell the story of chromium's biggest modern use.

Cobalt20151114

Cobalt20151114

Cobalt is a pricey metal used to make magnets, phone batteries and of course the colour blue. But what exactly are magnets, how do they work and where are they used? And is some of the cobalt in them being mined by children?

Presenter Laurence Knight hears from chemistry professor Andrea Sella of University College London why a permanent magnet is like a flock of birds. He travels to Arnold Magnetics near Sheffield where manager Martin Satyr explains how magnets are used in everything from recycling the heat from sports car engines to recycling your trash.

Also, Mark Dummett of Amnesty International, back from Katanga in southern Congo - source of half the world's cobalt - tells of his concerns about the conditions in which artisanal miners work, including children. And, David Weight of the Cobalt Development Institute explains what the industry is doing to ensure it knows where its cobalt is coming from.

Cobalt2015111420151116 (WS)

The metal in magnets and phone batteries - but is some of it being mined by children?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Cobalt is a pricey metal used to make magnets, phone batteries and of course the colour blue. But what exactly are magnets, how do they work and where are they used? And is some of the cobalt in them being mined by children?
Presenter Laurence Knight hears from chemistry professor Andrea Sella of University College London why a permanent magnet is like a flock of birds. He travels to Arnold Magnetics near Sheffield where manager Martin Satyr explains how magnets are used in everything from recycling the heat from sports car engines to recycling your trash.

Also, Mark Dummett of Amnesty International, back from Katanga in southern Congo - source of half the world's cobalt - tells of his concerns about the conditions in which artisanal miners work, including children. And, David Weight of the Cobalt Development Institute explains what the industry is doing to ensure it knows where its cobalt is coming from.

Cobalt20151114

The metal in magnets and phone batteries - but is some of it being mined by children?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Cobalt is a pricey metal used to make magnets, phone batteries and of course the colour blue. But what exactly are magnets, how do they work and where are they used? And is some of the cobalt in them being mined by children?
Presenter Laurence Knight hears from chemistry professor Andrea Sella of University College London why a permanent magnet is like a flock of birds. He travels to Arnold Magnetics near Sheffield where manager Martin Satyr explains how magnets are used in everything from recycling the heat from sports car engines to recycling your trash.

Also, Mark Dummett of Amnesty International, back from Katanga in southern Congo - source of half the world's cobalt - tells of his concerns about the conditions in which artisanal miners work, including children. And, David Weight of the Cobalt Development Institute explains what the industry is doing to ensure it knows where its cobalt is coming from.

Cobalt2015111420151116 (WS)

The metal in magnets and phone batteries - but is some of it being mined by children?

is a pricey metal used to make magnets, phone batteries and of course the colour blue. But what exactly are magnets, how do they work and where are they used? And is some of the cobalt in them being mined by children?

Presenter Laurence Knight hears from chemistry professor Andrea Sella of University College London why a permanent magnet is like a flock of birds. He travels to Arnold Magnetics near Sheffield where manager Martin Satyr explains how magnets are used in everything from recycling the heat from sports car engines to recycling your trash.

Also, Mark Dummett of Amnesty International, back from Katanga in southern Congo - source of half the world's cobalt - tells of his concerns about the conditions in which artisanal miners work, including children. And, David Weight of the Cobalt Development Institute explains what the industry is doing to ensure it knows where its cobalt is coming from.

Cobalt2015111420151116 (WS)

The metal in magnets and phone batteries - but is some of it being mined by children?

Copper20160326

Copper20160326

Copper has long been the metal of electricity generators and wiring. But presenter Justin Rowlatt asks whether new technologies herald the death of the old-fashioned electricity grid. Prof Andrea Sella of University College London explains the special properties of element 29 of the periodic table that mean that half of the world's mined copper is used to conduct electricity. Justin travels to the rapidly growing Indian city of Gurgaon to ask Jasmeet Khurana of solar consultancy Bridge to India what his government's plans to increase solar power a hundredfold mean for the best way to build the country's electricity grid. Electricity entrepreneur Simon Daniel of Moixa Technology argues that solar power and battery technology could transform the century-old debate between Tesla and Edison over AC vs DC power. And Zolaikha Strong of the Copper Development Association says the transition to renewable energy means the world will still need plenty more of the metal.

Copper20160326

has long been the metal of electricity generators and wiring. But presenter Justin Rowlatt asks whether new technologies herald the death of the old-fashioned electricity grid. Prof Andrea Sella of University College London explains the special properties of element 29 of the periodic table that mean that half of the world's mined copper is used to conduct electricity. Justin travels to the rapidly growing Indian city of Gurgaon to ask Jasmeet Khurana of solar consultancy Bridge to India what his government's plans to increase solar power a hundredfold mean for the best way to build the country's electricity grid. Electricity entrepreneur Simon Daniel of Moixa Technology argues that solar power and battery technology could transform the century-old debate between Tesla and Edison over AC vs DC power. And Zolaikha Strong of the Copper Development Association says the transition to renewable energy means the world will still need plenty more of the metal.

Copper20160326

Why copper wires? And do solar power and batteries herald the death of the old AC grid?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Copper has long been the metal of electricity generators and wiring. But presenter Justin Rowlatt asks whether new technologies herald the death of the old-fashioned electricity grid. Prof Andrea Sella of University College London explains the special properties of element 29 of the periodic table that mean that half of the world's mined copper is used to conduct electricity. Justin travels to the rapidly growing Indian city of Gurgaon to ask Jasmeet Khurana of solar consultancy Bridge to India what his government's plans to increase solar power a hundredfold mean for the best way to build the country's electricity grid. Electricity entrepreneur Simon Daniel of Moixa Technology argues that solar power and battery technology could transform the century-old debate between Tesla and Edison over AC vs DC power. And Zolaikha Strong of the Copper Development Association says the transition to renewable energy means the world will still need plenty more of the metal.

Fluorine2015071620150718 (WS)

The key building block for CFCs and a string of other gases posing a threat to mankind

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Fluorine is a ferocious yellow gas, which is a key building block for a string of other gases that pose a threat to mankind - from the ozone-depleting CFCs to potent greenhouse gases. Justin Rowlatt visits the electricity substation of University College London with Prof Andrea Sella to see one such gas in action. He speaks to Dr Stefan Reimann, who tracks their release into the atmosphere for the World Meteorological Organization. And he finds out from pioneering researcher Ian Shankland at chemicals giant Honeywell why an exploding Mercedes car caused a trans-Atlantic chemistry tiff.

Fluorine2015071620150720 (WS)

The key building block for CFCs and a string of other gases posing a threat to mankind

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Fluorine is a ferocious yellow gas, which is a key building block for a string of other gases that pose a threat to mankind - from the ozone-depleting CFCs to potent greenhouse gases. Justin Rowlatt visits the electricity substation of University College London with Prof Andrea Sella to see one such gas in action. He speaks to Dr Stefan Reimann, who tracks their release into the atmosphere for the World Meteorological Organization. And he finds out from pioneering researcher Ian Shankland at chemicals giant Honeywell why an exploding Mercedes car caused a trans-Atlantic chemistry tiff.

Fluorine20150716

The key building block for CFCs and a string of other gases posing a threat to mankind

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Fluorine is a ferocious yellow gas, which is a key building block for a string of other gases that pose a threat to mankind - from the ozone-depleting CFCs to potent greenhouse gases. Justin Rowlatt visits the electricity substation of University College London with Prof Andrea Sella to see one such gas in action. He speaks to Dr Stefan Reimann, who tracks their release into the atmosphere for the World Meteorological Organization. And he finds out from pioneering researcher Ian Shankland at chemicals giant Honeywell why an exploding Mercedes car caused a trans-Atlantic chemistry tiff.

Gallium and Indium20160305

Gallium and Indium2016030520160306 (WS)

LED lighting and the other electronics revolutionised by the elements Gallium and Indium

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

LED lighting, solar power and lasers are just some of the electronics revolutionised by two obscure chemical elements - gallium and indium. Presenter Laurence Knight hears from Mike Simpson of Philips why we will only need to replace our lightbulbs once every two decades. He also travels to Sheffield University where research centre head Jon Heffernan explains what on earth III-V materials are and why making an LED is like baking a pizza. Meanwhile chemistry stalwart Prof Andrea Sella of UCL demonstrates these two metals' surprisingly buttery melt-in-the-mouth properties.

Gallium and Indium2016030520160307 (WS)

LED lighting and the other electronics revolutionised by the elements Gallium and Indium

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

LED lighting, solar power and lasers are just some of the electronics revolutionised by two obscure chemical elements - gallium and indium. Presenter Laurence Knight hears from Mike Simpson of Philips why we will only need to replace our lightbulbs once every two decades. He also travels to Sheffield University where research centre head Jon Heffernan explains what on earth III-V materials are and why making an LED is like baking a pizza. Meanwhile chemistry stalwart Prof Andrea Sella of UCL demonstrates these two metals' surprisingly buttery melt-in-the-mouth properties.

Gallium and Indium20160305

LED lighting and the other electronics revolutionised by the elements Gallium and Indium

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

LED lighting, solar power and lasers are just some of the electronics revolutionised by two obscure chemical elements - gallium and indium. Presenter Laurence Knight hears from Mike Simpson of Philips why we will only need to replace our lightbulbs once every two decades. He also travels to Sheffield University where research centre head Jon Heffernan explains what on earth III-V materials are and why making an LED is like baking a pizza. Meanwhile chemistry stalwart Prof Andrea Sella of UCL demonstrates these two metals' surprisingly buttery melt-in-the-mouth properties.

Gallium and Indium2016030520160306 (WS)

LED lighting and the other electronics revolutionised by the elements Gallium and Indium

Gallium and Indium2016030520160307 (WS)

LED lighting and the other electronics revolutionised by the elements Gallium and Indium

Gallium and Indium20160305

LED lighting, solar power and lasers are just some of the electronics revolutionised by two obscure chemical elements - gallium and indium. Presenter Laurence Knight hears from Mike Simpson of Philips why we will only need to replace our lightbulbs once every two decades. He also travels to Sheffield University where research centre head Jon Heffernan explains what on earth III-V materials are and why making an LED is like baking a pizza. Meanwhile chemistry stalwart Prof Andrea Sella of UCL demonstrates these two metals' surprisingly buttery melt-in-the-mouth properties.

Gallium And Indium2016030520160306 (WS)
20160307 (WS)

LED lighting, solar power and lasers are just some of the electronics revolutionised by two obscure chemical elements - gallium and indium. Presenter Laurence Knight hears from Mike Simpson of Philips why we will only need to replace our lightbulbs once every two decades. He also travels to Sheffield University where research centre head Jon Heffernan explains what on earth III-V materials are and why making an LED is like baking a pizza. Meanwhile chemistry stalwart Prof Andrea Sella of UCL demonstrates these two metals' surprisingly buttery melt-in-the-mouth properties.

LED lighting and the other electronics revolutionised by the elements Gallium and Indium

Iron20151107

Iron2015110720151108 (WS)

How the abundant metal lron became the very stuff of modern industrial life

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Iron is the chemical element at the heart of steel, and by extension of industrialisation. Justin Rowlatt explores key moments in the Industrial Revolution here in Britain that transformed this most abundant of metal elements into the key material out of which modern life is constructed.

But what will happen when the whole world has finished industrialising? Will we even need to dig iron out of the ground any more? And what does the recent collapse in iron ore prices say about the economic progress of China and India? Justin speaks to material scientist Daniel Beat Mueller, and to the head of iron ore operations at mining giant Rio Tinto, to find out.

Iron2015110720151109 (WS)

How the abundant metal lron became the very stuff of modern industrial life

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Iron is the chemical element at the heart of steel, and by extension of industrialisation. Justin Rowlatt explores key moments in the Industrial Revolution here in Britain that transformed this most abundant of metal elements into the key material out of which modern life is constructed.

But what will happen when the whole world has finished industrialising? Will we even need to dig iron out of the ground any more? And what does the recent collapse in iron ore prices say about the economic progress of China and India? Justin speaks to material scientist Daniel Beat Mueller, and to the head of iron ore operations at mining giant Rio Tinto, to find out.

Iron20151107

How the abundant metal lron became the very stuff of modern industrial life

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Iron is the chemical element at the heart of steel, and by extension of industrialisation. Justin Rowlatt explores key moments in the Industrial Revolution here in Britain that transformed this most abundant of metal elements into the key material out of which modern life is constructed.

But what will happen when the whole world has finished industrialising? Will we even need to dig iron out of the ground any more? And what does the recent collapse in iron ore prices say about the economic progress of China and India? Justin speaks to material scientist Daniel Beat Mueller, and to the head of iron ore operations at mining giant Rio Tinto, to find out.

Iron2015110720151108 (WS)

How the abundant metal lron became the very stuff of modern industrial life

Iron2015110720151109 (WS)

How the abundant metal lron became the very stuff of modern industrial life

Iron20151107

Iron is the chemical element at the heart of steel, and by extension of industrialisation. Justin Rowlatt explores key moments in the Industrial Revolution here in Britain that transformed this most abundant of metal elements into the key material out of which modern life is constructed.

But what will happen when the whole world has finished industrialising? Will we even need to dig iron out of the ground any more? And what does the recent collapse in iron ore prices say about the economic progress of China and India? Justin speaks to material scientist Daniel Beat Mueller, and to the head of iron ore operations at mining giant Rio Tinto, to find out.

Iron2015110720151108 (WS)
20151109 (WS)

is the chemical element at the heart of steel, and by extension of industrialisation. Justin Rowlatt explores key moments in the Industrial Revolution here in Britain that transformed this most abundant of metal elements into the key material out of which modern life is constructed.

But what will happen when the whole world has finished industrialising? Will we even need to dig iron out of the ground any more? And what does the recent collapse in iron ore prices say about the economic progress of China and India? Justin speaks to material scientist Daniel Beat Mueller, and to the head of iron ore operations at mining giant Rio Tinto, to find out.

How the abundant metal lron became the very stuff of modern industrial life

Lead (Pb) - Elements2014103020141102 (WS)

The sweetest of poisons, have we learnt how to handle this heavy metal?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Lead is the sweetest of poisons, blamed for everything from mad Roman emperors to modern-day crime waves. Yet a lead-acid battery is still what gets your car going in the morning. So have we finally learnt how to handle this heavyweight element? Justin Rowlatt travels to arts shop Cornelissen in London's Bloomsbury to find out why they have stopped stocking lead paints, and hears from professor Andrea Sella of University College London about the unique properties that have made this metal so handy in everything from radiation protection to glassware.

Yet lead in petrol is also accused of having inflicted brain damage on an entire generation of children in the 1970s, as the economist Jessica Wolpaw-Reyes of Amherst College explains. And, producer Laurence Knight travels to one of the UK's only two lead smelters - HJ Enthoven's at Darley Dale in Derbyshire, the historical heartland of the UK lead industry - to see what becomes of the lead in your car battery. And, we speak to the director of the International Lead Association, Andy Bush.

Lead (Pb) - Elements20141030

The sweetest of poisons, have we learnt how to handle this heavy metal?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Lead is the sweetest of poisons, blamed for everything from mad Roman emperors to modern-day crime waves. Yet a lead-acid battery is still what gets your car going in the morning. So have we finally learnt how to handle this heavyweight element? Justin Rowlatt travels to arts shop Cornelissen in London's Bloomsbury to find out why they have stopped stocking lead paints, and hears from professor Andrea Sella of University College London about the unique properties that have made this metal so handy in everything from radiation protection to glassware.

Yet lead in petrol is also accused of having inflicted brain damage on an entire generation of children in the 1970s, as the economist Jessica Wolpaw-Reyes of Amherst College explains. And, producer Laurence Knight travels to one of the UK's only two lead smelters - HJ Enthoven's at Darley Dale in Derbyshire, the historical heartland of the UK lead industry - to see what becomes of the lead in your car battery. And, we speak to the director of the International Lead Association, Andy Bush.

Lithium2014070520140706 (WS)

batteries may be the future for cars, but does Bolivia hold the keys?

is the electro-chemical element - big in batteries and bipolar disorder. Over two decades it has shot from obscurity to become almost synonymous with the way we power our gadgets. Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry powerhouse Prof Andrea Sella of University College London about what makes lithium so light and energetic. We hear from Gideon Long in Chile, who visits the world's richest source of lithium in the Atacama Desert, and about how neighbouring Bolivia believes it will dominate supply if demand for this alkali metal continues to see double-digit growth. Justin speaks to Prof Nigel Brandon of Imperial College, an expert on cutting-edge battery research, about whether this week's element can ever realistically hope to challenge a can of petrol as the best way to power a car. And we hear from clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison of Johns Hopkins University about the literally life-saving role lithium has played for sufferers of bipolar disorder - including herself.

Lithium2014070520140706 (WS)

is the electro-chemical element - big in batteries and bipolar disorder. Over two decades it has shot from obscurity to become almost synonymous with the way we power our gadgets. Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry powerhouse Prof Andrea Sella of University College London about what makes lithium so light and energetic. We hear from Gideon Long in Chile, who visits the world's richest source of lithium in the Atacama Desert, and about how neighbouring Bolivia believes it will dominate supply if demand for this alkali metal continues to see double-digit growth. Justin speaks to Prof Nigel Brandon of Imperial College, an expert on cutting-edge battery research, about whether this week's element can ever realistically hope to challenge a can of petrol as the best way to power a car. And we hear from clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison of Johns Hopkins University about the literally life-saving role lithium has played for sufferers of bipolar disorder - including herself.

batteries may be the future for cars, but does Bolivia hold the keys?

Lithium (Li)2014070520140706 (WS)

Lithium batteries may be the future for cars, but does Bolivia hold the keys?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Lithium is the electro-chemical element - big in batteries and bipolar disorder. Over two decades it has shot from obscurity to become almost synonymous with the way we power our gadgets. Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry powerhouse professor Andrea Sella of University College London about what makes lithium so light and energetic. We hear from Gideon Long in Chile, who visits the world's richest source of lithium in the Atacama Desert, and about how neighbouring Bolivia believes it will dominate supply if demand for this alkali metal continues to see double-digit growth. Justin speaks to professor Nigel Brandon of Imperial College, an expert on cutting-edge battery research, about whether lithium can ever realistically hope to challenge a can of petrol as the best way to power a car. And, we hear from clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison of Johns Hopkins University about the literally life-saving role lithium has played for sufferers of bipolar disorder - including herself. (Picture: Salar de Atacama; Credit: Gideon Long)

Lithium (Li)20140705

Lithium batteries may be the future for cars, but does Bolivia hold the keys?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Lithium is the electro-chemical element - big in batteries and bipolar disorder. Over two decades it has shot from obscurity to become almost synonymous with the way we power our gadgets. Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry powerhouse professor Andrea Sella of University College London about what makes lithium so light and energetic. We hear from Gideon Long in Chile, who visits the world's richest source of lithium in the Atacama Desert, and about how neighbouring Bolivia believes it will dominate supply if demand for this alkali metal continues to see double-digit growth. Justin speaks to professor Nigel Brandon of Imperial College, an expert on cutting-edge battery research, about whether lithium can ever realistically hope to challenge a can of petrol as the best way to power a car. And, we hear from clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison of Johns Hopkins University about the literally life-saving role lithium has played for sufferers of bipolar disorder - including herself. (Picture: Salar de Atacama; Credit: Gideon Long)

Magnesium and Beryllium20160319

Magnesium and Beryllium20160319

Two chemical elements with sinister pasts - one helped fuel the worst conflagration in motorsports history, the other destroyed the lungs of unsuspecting nuclear workers. They are also two of the lightest metals in the periodic table - making them ideal for car and aeroplane parts. But are they safe to use?

Presenter Laurence Knight travels to alloys maker Magnesium Elektron to discover whether the metal deserves its fiery reputation, and the work they are doing to reintroduce it into aeroplane seating.

We also hear from the Hanford former nuclear weapons site in Washington State, where the BBC's Gianna Palmer investigates what is being done for ex-employees who were poisoned by beryllium dust. And, IBC Advanced Alloys explain how they protect the health of their workers manufacturing beryllium-aluminium parts for aerospace.

Magnesium and Beryllium2016031920160320 (WS)

Two metals with sinister reputations - one for flammability, the other for lung disease

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Two chemical elements with sinister pasts - one helped fuel the worst conflagration in motorsports history, the other destroyed the lungs of unsuspecting nuclear workers. They are also two of the lightest metals in the periodic table - making them ideal for car and aeroplane parts. But are they safe to use?

Presenter Laurence Knight travels to alloys maker Magnesium Elektron to discover whether the metal deserves its fiery reputation, and the work they are doing to reintroduce it into aeroplane seating.

We also hear from the Hanford former nuclear weapons site in Washington State, where the BBC's Gianna Palmer investigates what is being done for ex-employees who were poisoned by beryllium dust. And, IBC Advanced Alloys explain how they protect the health of their workers manufacturing beryllium-aluminium parts for aerospace.

Magnesium and Beryllium2016031920160321 (WS)

Two metals with sinister reputations - one for flammability, the other for lung disease

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Two chemical elements with sinister pasts - one helped fuel the worst conflagration in motorsports history, the other destroyed the lungs of unsuspecting nuclear workers. They are also two of the lightest metals in the periodic table - making them ideal for car and aeroplane parts. But are they safe to use?

Presenter Laurence Knight travels to alloys maker Magnesium Elektron to discover whether the metal deserves its fiery reputation, and the work they are doing to reintroduce it into aeroplane seating.

We also hear from the Hanford former nuclear weapons site in Washington State, where the BBC's Gianna Palmer investigates what is being done for ex-employees who were poisoned by beryllium dust. And, IBC Advanced Alloys explain how they protect the health of their workers manufacturing beryllium-aluminium parts for aerospace.

Magnesium and Beryllium20160319

Two metals with sinister reputations - one for flammability, the other for lung disease

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Two chemical elements with sinister pasts - one helped fuel the worst conflagration in motorsports history, the other destroyed the lungs of unsuspecting nuclear workers. They are also two of the lightest metals in the periodic table - making them ideal for car and aeroplane parts. But are they safe to use?

Presenter Laurence Knight travels to alloys maker Magnesium Elektron to discover whether the metal deserves its fiery reputation, and the work they are doing to reintroduce it into aeroplane seating.

We also hear from the Hanford former nuclear weapons site in Washington State, where the BBC's Gianna Palmer investigates what is being done for ex-employees who were poisoned by beryllium dust. And, IBC Advanced Alloys explain how they protect the health of their workers manufacturing beryllium-aluminium parts for aerospace.

Magnesium And Beryllium2016031920160320 (WS)
20160321 (WS)

Two metals with sinister reputations - one for flammability, the other for lung disease

Two chemical elements with sinister pasts - one helped fuel the worst conflagration in motorsports history, the other destroyed the lungs of unsuspecting nuclear workers. They are also two of the lightest metals in the periodic table - making them ideal for car and aeroplane parts. But are they safe to use?

Presenter Laurence Knight travels to alloys maker Magnesium Elektron to discover whether the metal deserves its fiery reputation, and the work they are doing to reintroduce it into aeroplane seating.

We also hear from the Hanford former nuclear weapons site in Washington State, where the BBC's Gianna Palmer investigates what is being done for ex-employees who were poisoned by beryllium dust. And, IBC Advanced Alloys explain how they protect the health of their workers manufacturing beryllium-aluminium parts for aerospace.

Magnesium and Beryllium2016031920160320 (WS)

Two metals with sinister reputations - one for flammability, the other for lung disease

Magnesium and Beryllium2016031920160321 (WS)

Two metals with sinister reputations - one for flammability, the other for lung disease

Nickel20150702

The economy of Nickel, the metal and element that made the jet age possible

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Nickel2015070220150704 (WS)

The economy of Nickel, the metal and element that made the jet age possible

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Nickel2015070220150706 (WS)

The economy of Nickel, the metal and element that made the jet age possible

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Oxygen20151031

Oxygen2015103120151101 (WS)

The 'element of life' also makes our atmosphere very dangerous and costly to operate in

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The 'element of life' also makes the air that we breathe a perilous and costly atmosphere in which to operate. Prof Andrea Sella of University College London provides presenter Justin Rowlatt with a characteristically striking argument for why oxygen is so “incredibly dangerous” - and how its advent turned Planet Earth into a snowball. Pawanexh Kohli, in charge of India’s national cold chain strategy, explains over a cup of chai why the oxygen needs of fresh vegetables and fresh meat are very different. Physics polymath Baldev Raj unpicks the mystery of Delhi’s 1,600-year-old iron pillar, and explains just how damaging rust and corrosion can be. And former “smoke-jumper” Frankie Romero explains the mesmerising attraction of wildfires, and why stamping them out is not always a good idea.

Oxygen2015103120151102 (WS)

The 'element of life' also makes our atmosphere very dangerous and costly to operate in

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The 'element of life' also makes the air that we breathe a perilous and costly atmosphere in which to operate. Prof Andrea Sella of University College London provides presenter Justin Rowlatt with a characteristically striking argument for why oxygen is so “incredibly dangerous” - and how its advent turned Planet Earth into a snowball. Pawanexh Kohli, in charge of India’s national cold chain strategy, explains over a cup of chai why the oxygen needs of fresh vegetables and fresh meat are very different. Physics polymath Baldev Raj unpicks the mystery of Delhi’s 1,600-year-old iron pillar, and explains just how damaging rust and corrosion can be. And former “smoke-jumper” Frankie Romero explains the mesmerising attraction of wildfires, and why stamping them out is not always a good idea.

Oxygen20151031

The 'element of life' also makes our atmosphere very dangerous and costly to operate in

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The 'element of life' also makes the air that we breathe a perilous and costly atmosphere in which to operate. Prof Andrea Sella of University College London provides presenter Justin Rowlatt with a characteristically striking argument for why oxygen is so “incredibly dangerous” - and how its advent turned Planet Earth into a snowball. Pawanexh Kohli, in charge of India’s national cold chain strategy, explains over a cup of chai why the oxygen needs of fresh vegetables and fresh meat are very different. Physics polymath Baldev Raj unpicks the mystery of Delhi’s 1,600-year-old iron pillar, and explains just how damaging rust and corrosion can be. And former “smoke-jumper” Frankie Romero explains the mesmerising attraction of wildfires, and why stamping them out is not always a good idea.

Oxygen2015103120151101 (WS)

The 'element of life' also makes our atmosphere very dangerous and costly to operate in

Oxygen2015103120151102 (WS)

The 'element of life' also makes our atmosphere very dangerous and costly to operate in

Oxygen20151031

The 'element of life' also makes the air that we breathe a perilous and costly atmosphere in which to operate. Prof Andrea Sella of University College London provides presenter Justin Rowlatt with a characteristically striking argument for why oxygen is so “incredibly dangerous? - and how its advent turned Planet Earth into a snowball. Pawanexh Kohli, in charge of India’s national cold chain strategy, explains over a cup of chai why the oxygen needs of fresh vegetables and fresh meat are very different. Physics polymath Baldev Raj unpicks the mystery of Delhi’s 1,600-year-old iron pillar, and explains just how damaging rust and corrosion can be. And former “smoke-jumper? Frankie Romero explains the mesmerising attraction of wildfires, and why stamping them out is not always a good idea.

Oxygen2015103120151101 (WS)
20151102 (WS)

The 'element of life' also makes the air that we breathe a perilous and costly atmosphere in which to operate. Prof Andrea Sella of University College London provides presenter Justin Rowlatt with a characteristically striking argument for why oxygen is so “incredibly dangerous? - and how its advent turned Planet Earth into a snowball. Pawanexh Kohli, in charge of India’s national cold chain strategy, explains over a cup of chai why the oxygen needs of fresh vegetables and fresh meat are very different. Physics polymath Baldev Raj unpicks the mystery of Delhi’s 1,600-year-old iron pillar, and explains just how damaging rust and corrosion can be. And former “smoke-jumper? Frankie Romero explains the mesmerising attraction of wildfires, and why stamping them out is not always a good idea.

The 'element of life' also makes our atmosphere very dangerous and costly to operate in

Phosphorus and Helium20140216

Helium and phosphorus - what would happen if the world ran out of them one day?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Helium and phosphorus are two very different elements of the periodic table. One is a highly reactive solid, the other a completely inert gas. Yet they have one big thing in common - mankind is frittering them away and could one day find them much more difficult to get hold of.

Without helium, the fight against cancer would become far more daunting. And a world without phosphorus... well, that hardly bears thinking about! We find out where we get these two critical elements from, and - far more disconcerting - where they end up.

And as for what can be done to conserve them? Listen to find out.

Sodium (Na)2014071920140720 (WS)

The alkali metal that plays a role in soap, paper, human health and murder.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

What links soap, paper, heart disease and murder? Sodium. In the latest in our series of programmes looking at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table, Justin Rowlatt returns to the chlor-alkali plant of Industrial Chemicals Ltd to discover from chemistry professor Andrea Sella how sodium is ripped from common table salt, and how it provides the grist for the global chemicals industry. One of its biggest uses is in the Kraft process, the most common way of pulping wood to make paper. Malcolm Brabant travels to a remote corner of Sweden, where the Munksjo paper company first put the technique into practice over a century ago. But sodium does not only digest wood - we hear the first-hand account of serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli on how she used caustic soda to dispose of her victims. Plus, Justin explores sodium's controversial role in our diet, and in regulating blood pressure. We pit Morton Satin, the self-styled 'Salt Guru' and spokesman for the US salt industry, against Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine leading the drive to cut the salt content in food.

Sodium (Na)20140719

The alkali metal that plays a role in soap, paper, human health and murder.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

What links soap, paper, heart disease and murder? Sodium. In the latest in our series of programmes looking at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table, Justin Rowlatt returns to the chlor-alkali plant of Industrial Chemicals Ltd to discover from chemistry professor Andrea Sella how sodium is ripped from common table salt, and how it provides the grist for the global chemicals industry. One of its biggest uses is in the Kraft process, the most common way of pulping wood to make paper. Malcolm Brabant travels to a remote corner of Sweden, where the Munksjo paper company first put the technique into practice over a century ago. But sodium does not only digest wood - we hear the first-hand account of serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli on how she used caustic soda to dispose of her victims. Plus, Justin explores sodium's controversial role in our diet, and in regulating blood pressure. We pit Morton Satin, the self-styled 'Salt Guru' and spokesman for the US salt industry, against Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine leading the drive to cut the salt content in food.

Sulphur (S) - Elements2014101120141012 (WS)

Does the world face a looming glut of this devilish yellow element?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Sulphur is in abundant supply thanks to its extraction from sour oil and gas, in order to prevent acid rain pollution. But does the world face a glut of this devilish chemical element, famed for its colour and odour? And if so, what uses can it be put to?

Justin Rowlatt has his hair cut as professor Andrea Sella of University College London, demonstrates sulphur's surprisingly plastic - and acrid - qualities. He travels to the leafy London suburb of Twickenham to find out about Joshua Ward, the charlatan who set up the world's first sulphuric acid factory.

We hear from Richard Hands, editor of Sulphur magazine, about the element's many industrial uses, as well as the gigantic heaps of unwanted sulphur piling up in Canada and Florida. And Mike Lumley, who leads efforts at Shell to make use of the oil giant's sulphur bi-product, explains why the end of acid rain has opened up a surprising new source of demand.

Finally, Justin speaks to Dr Robert Ballard - the man who located the shipwreck of the Titanic - about why he actually considers a sulphur-linked oceanic discovery to be his greatest achievement.

(Picture: Sulphur blocks in Alberta, Canada; Credit: David Dodge/Pembina Institute)

Sulphur (S) - Elements20141011

Does the world face a looming glut of this devilish yellow element?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Sulphur is in abundant supply thanks to its extraction from sour oil and gas, in order to prevent acid rain pollution. But does the world face a glut of this devilish chemical element, famed for its colour and odour? And if so, what uses can it be put to?

Justin Rowlatt has his hair cut as professor Andrea Sella of University College London, demonstrates sulphur's surprisingly plastic - and acrid - qualities. He travels to the leafy London suburb of Twickenham to find out about Joshua Ward, the charlatan who set up the world's first sulphuric acid factory.

We hear from Richard Hands, editor of Sulphur magazine, about the element's many industrial uses, as well as the gigantic heaps of unwanted sulphur piling up in Canada and Florida. And Mike Lumley, who leads efforts at Shell to make use of the oil giant's sulphur bi-product, explains why the end of acid rain has opened up a surprising new source of demand.

Finally, Justin speaks to Dr Robert Ballard - the man who located the shipwreck of the Titanic - about why he actually considers a sulphur-linked oceanic discovery to be his greatest achievement.

(Picture: Sulphur blocks in Alberta, Canada; Credit: David Dodge/Pembina Institute)

Technetium20150723

Essential for medical imaging, supplies of this manmade element are far from guaranteed.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Technetium2015072320150725 (WS)

Essential for medical imaging, supplies of this manmade element are far from guaranteed.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Technetium2015072320150727 (WS)

Essential for medical imaging, supplies of this manmade element are far from guaranteed.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The Elements and the Economy2014020920140212 (WS)

From aluminium to zinc, how the chemical elements are driving the global economy

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The periodic table provides an entirely new perspective on how the global economy works, as we discover in the first part of a new series about the chemical elements.

A mining engineer working with Rio Tinto explains the geological processes that took millions of years to create the useful concentrations of these fundamental building blocks, and the often brutal process of extracting them. We hear about a project to dissect mobile phones in order to highlight the disturbing stories behind some of the 40 elements they contain. And we take a guided tour of the world’s main trading forum for eleven of the biggest elements – the London Metals Exchange.

The Elements and the Economy20140209

From aluminium to zinc, how the chemical elements are driving the global economy

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

The periodic table provides an entirely new perspective on how the global economy works, as we discover in the first part of a new series about the chemical elements.

A mining engineer working with Rio Tinto explains the geological processes that took millions of years to create the useful concentrations of these fundamental building blocks, and the often brutal process of extracting them. We hear about a project to dissect mobile phones in order to highlight the disturbing stories behind some of the 40 elements they contain. And we take a guided tour of the world’s main trading forum for eleven of the biggest elements – the London Metals Exchange.

Tin20140302

Tin may seem old-fashioned, but it plays some surprisingly important roles in the modern economy. Presenter Justin Rowlatt meets our favourite chemist Andrea Sella of UCL at Pewters' Hall in London to discover the unique properties of the metal that sparked the Bronze Age.

He discovers the metal's role in plastics and electronics, and visits the giant Pilkington glass factory to find out how tin revolutionised the glass-making industry. And he meets two very venerable tin chemists, Alwyn Davies and Ted Fletcher.

Tin20140302

may seem old-fashioned, but it plays some surprisingly important roles in the modern economy. Presenter Justin Rowlatt meets our favourite chemist Andrea Sella of UCL at Pewters' Hall in London to discover the unique properties of the metal that sparked the Bronze Age.

He discovers the metal's role in plastics and electronics, and visits the giant Pilkington glass factory to find out how tin revolutionised the glass-making industry. And he meets two very venerable tin chemists, Alwyn Davies and Ted Fletcher.

Tin (Sn)20140302

Tin: From the glue that holds our electronic world together to a revolution glass-making

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Tin may seem old-fashioned, but it plays some surprisingly important roles in the modern economy. Presenter Justin Rowlatt meets our favourite chemist Andrea Sella of UCL at Pewters' Hall in London to discover the unique properties of the metal that sparked the Bronze Age.

He discovers the metal's role in plastics and electronics, and visits the giant Pilkington glass factory to find out how tin revolutionised the glass-making industry. And he meets two very venerable tin chemists, Alwyn Davies and Ted Fletcher.

Titanium20160312

Titanium20160312

It's stronger than steel, but could a new chemical process one day make this glamorous metal as common as steel? Plus what do paint, sun cream, clean windows and fresh air have in common?

Prof Andrea Sella tells presenter Laurence Knight why this relatively widespread chemical element is so difficult to extract from its ore. We then head to Yorkshire, where metallurgy pioneers Metalysis are trying to commercialise a novel way of doing just that - the so-called FFC Process. Laurence also visits Epsom hospital, where surgeon Philip Mitchell explains why titanium makes such great bone implants, and Philip Dewhurst of mineral consultancy Roskill casts doubts on whether titanium will ever become cheap and ubiquitous. Plus, Brian Pickett of pigments manufacturer Cristal explains why his company has been painting various bits of London to further the fight against city smog.

Titanium2016031220160313 (WS)

It's stronger than steel, but could this glamorous metal become as common as steel?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

It's stronger than steel, but could a new chemical process one day make this glamorous metal as common as steel? Plus what do paint, sun cream, clean windows and fresh air have in common?
Prof Andrea Sella tells presenter Laurence Knight why this relatively widespread chemical element is so difficult to extract from its ore. We then head to Yorkshire, where metallurgy pioneers Metalysis are trying to commercialise a novel way of doing just that - the so-called FFC Process. Laurence also visits Epsom hospital, where surgeon Philip Mitchell explains why titanium makes such great bone implants, and Philip Dewhurst of mineral consultancy Roskill casts doubts on whether titanium will ever become cheap and ubiquitous. Plus, Brian Pickett of pigments manufacturer Cristal explains why his company has been painting various bits of London to further the fight against city smog.

Titanium2016031220160314 (WS)

It's stronger than steel, but could this glamorous metal become as common as steel?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

It's stronger than steel, but could a new chemical process one day make this glamorous metal as common as steel? Plus what do paint, sun cream, clean windows and fresh air have in common?
Prof Andrea Sella tells presenter Laurence Knight why this relatively widespread chemical element is so difficult to extract from its ore. We then head to Yorkshire, where metallurgy pioneers Metalysis are trying to commercialise a novel way of doing just that - the so-called FFC Process. Laurence also visits Epsom hospital, where surgeon Philip Mitchell explains why titanium makes such great bone implants, and Philip Dewhurst of mineral consultancy Roskill casts doubts on whether titanium will ever become cheap and ubiquitous. Plus, Brian Pickett of pigments manufacturer Cristal explains why his company has been painting various bits of London to further the fight against city smog.

Titanium20160312

It's stronger than steel, but could this glamorous metal become as common as steel?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

It's stronger than steel, but could a new chemical process one day make this glamorous metal as common as steel? Plus what do paint, sun cream, clean windows and fresh air have in common?
Prof Andrea Sella tells presenter Laurence Knight why this relatively widespread chemical element is so difficult to extract from its ore. We then head to Yorkshire, where metallurgy pioneers Metalysis are trying to commercialise a novel way of doing just that - the so-called FFC Process. Laurence also visits Epsom hospital, where surgeon Philip Mitchell explains why titanium makes such great bone implants, and Philip Dewhurst of mineral consultancy Roskill casts doubts on whether titanium will ever become cheap and ubiquitous. Plus, Brian Pickett of pigments manufacturer Cristal explains why his company has been painting various bits of London to further the fight against city smog.

Titanium2016031220160313 (WS)
20160314 (WS)

It's stronger than steel, but could this glamorous metal become as common as steel?

It's stronger than steel, but could a new chemical process one day make this glamorous metal as common as steel? Plus what do paint, sun cream, clean windows and fresh air have in common?

Prof Andrea Sella tells presenter Laurence Knight why this relatively widespread chemical element is so difficult to extract from its ore. We then head to Yorkshire, where metallurgy pioneers Metalysis are trying to commercialise a novel way of doing just that - the so-called FFC Process. Laurence also visits Epsom hospital, where surgeon Philip Mitchell explains why titanium makes such great bone implants, and Philip Dewhurst of mineral consultancy Roskill casts doubts on whether titanium will ever become cheap and ubiquitous. Plus, Brian Pickett of pigments manufacturer Cristal explains why his company has been painting various bits of London to further the fight against city smog.

Titanium2016031220160313 (WS)

It's stronger than steel, but could this glamorous metal become as common as steel?

Titanium2016031220160314 (WS)

It's stronger than steel, but could this glamorous metal become as common as steel?

Tungsten2014072620140727 (WS)

Hot, hard and heavy - it cuts steel and penetrates armour, yet China has a near monopoly

is one of the hardest, heaviest and highest melting metals, used in everything from bulbs to bullets, x-rays to drill bits. Justin Rowlatt hears from the perennial Professor Andrea Sella of University College London about the properties of what is one of the densest of elements.

We get a tour of the SGS Carbide tool factory with managing director Alan Pearce, and we consider the market value of this very useful element with Mark Seddon, head of consultancy firm Tungsten Market Research.

Should we worry that China dominates demand? And why is it taking so long to open up new sources? We visit the Hemerdon mining project in the pretty English county of Devon, and hear from Russell Clark, head of the mining firm Wolf Minerals that is reopening it.

And, there is a very special reason why your government should care about its tungsten supplies, as military technology analyst Robert Kelley explains.

Tungsten2014072620140727 (WS)

is one of the hardest, heaviest and highest melting metals, used in everything from bulbs to bullets, x-rays to drill bits. Justin Rowlatt hears from the perennial Professor Andrea Sella of University College London about the properties of what is one of the densest of elements.

We get a tour of the SGS Carbide tool factory with managing director Alan Pearce, and we consider the market value of this very useful element with Mark Seddon, head of consultancy firm Tungsten Market Research.

Should we worry that China dominates demand? And why is it taking so long to open up new sources? We visit the Hemerdon mining project in the pretty English county of Devon, and hear from Russell Clark, head of the mining firm Wolf Minerals that is reopening it.

And, there is a very special reason why your government should care about its tungsten supplies, as military technology analyst Robert Kelley explains.

Hot, hard and heavy - it cuts steel and penetrates armour, yet China has a near monopoly

Tungsten (W)2014072620140727 (WS)

Hot, hard and heavy - it cuts steel and penetrates armour, yet China has a near monopoly

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Tungsten is one of the hardest, heaviest and highest melting metals, used in everything from bulbs to bullets, x-rays to drill bits. Justin Rowlatt hears from the perennial Professor Andrea Sella of University College London about the properties of what is one of the densest of elements.
We get a tour of the SGS Carbide tool factory with managing director Alan Pearce, and we consider the market value of this very useful element with Mark Seddon, head of consultancy firm Tungsten Market Research.

Should we worry that China dominates demand? And why is it taking so long to open up new sources? We visit the Hemerdon mining project in the pretty English county of Devon, and hear from Russell Clark, head of the mining firm Wolf Minerals that is reopening it.

And, there is a very special reason why your government should care about its tungsten supplies, as military technology analyst Robert Kelley explains.

(Picture: Soldier lays armour-piercing sabot round on the ground during Operation Desert Shield; Credit: US Department of Defense)

Tungsten (W)20140726

Hot, hard and heavy - it cuts steel and penetrates armour, yet China has a near monopoly

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Tungsten is one of the hardest, heaviest and highest melting metals, used in everything from bulbs to bullets, x-rays to drill bits. Justin Rowlatt hears from the perennial Professor Andrea Sella of University College London about the properties of what is one of the densest of elements.
We get a tour of the SGS Carbide tool factory with managing director Alan Pearce, and we consider the market value of this very useful element with Mark Seddon, head of consultancy firm Tungsten Market Research.

Should we worry that China dominates demand? And why is it taking so long to open up new sources? We visit the Hemerdon mining project in the pretty English county of Devon, and hear from Russell Clark, head of the mining firm Wolf Minerals that is reopening it.

And, there is a very special reason why your government should care about its tungsten supplies, as military technology analyst Robert Kelley explains.

(Picture: Soldier lays armour-piercing sabot round on the ground during Operation Desert Shield; Credit: US Department of Defense)

Uranium (U) - Elements2015021920150222 (WS)

Nuclear power is carbon-free but leaves radioactive waste - a real dilemma for Greens

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Uranium is the fuel for nuclear power stations, which generate carbon-free electricity, but also radioactive waste that lasts a millennium. In the latest in our series looking at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table, Justin Rowlatt travels to Sizewell in Suffolk, in a taxi driven by a former uranium prospector.

He is given a tour of the operational power station, Sizewell B, which generates 3% of the UK's electricity, by EDF's head of safety Colin Tucker, before popping next-door to the original power station, Sizewell A, where he speaks to site director Tim Watkins about the drawn-out process of decommissioning and cleaning up the now-defunct reactors.

But while Sizewell remains reassuringly quiet, big explosions come at the end of the programme. We pit environmentalist and pro-nuclear convert Mark Lynas against German Green politician Hans-Josef Fell, the joint architect of Germany's big move towards wind and solar energy, at the expense of nuclear. Is nuclear a green option? It really depends whom you ask.

(Photo: Perdiodic table)

Uranium (U) - Elements20150219

Nuclear power is carbon-free but leaves radioactive waste - a real dilemma for Greens

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Uranium is the fuel for nuclear power stations, which generate carbon-free electricity, but also radioactive waste that lasts a millennium. In the latest in our series looking at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table, Justin Rowlatt travels to Sizewell in Suffolk, in a taxi driven by a former uranium prospector.

He is given a tour of the operational power station, Sizewell B, which generates 3% of the UK's electricity, by EDF's head of safety Colin Tucker, before popping next-door to the original power station, Sizewell A, where he speaks to site director Tim Watkins about the drawn-out process of decommissioning and cleaning up the now-defunct reactors.

But while Sizewell remains reassuringly quiet, big explosions come at the end of the programme. We pit environmentalist and pro-nuclear convert Mark Lynas against German Green politician Hans-Josef Fell, the joint architect of Germany's big move towards wind and solar energy, at the expense of nuclear. Is nuclear a green option? It really depends whom you ask.

(Photo: Perdiodic table)

01Elements2014101120141012 (WS)

Does the world face a looming glut of this devilish yellow element?

Sulphur is in abundant supply thanks to its extraction from sour oil and gas, in order to prevent acid rain pollution. But does the world face a glut of this devilish chemical element, famed for its colour and odour? And if so, what uses can it be put to?

Justin Rowlatt has his hair cut as professor Andrea Sella of University College London, demonstrates sulphur's surprisingly plastic - and acrid - qualities. He travels to the leafy London suburb of Twickenham to find out about Joshua Ward, the charlatan who set up the world's first sulphuric acid factory.

We hear from Richard Hands, editor of Sulphur magazine, about the element's many industrial uses, as well as the gigantic heaps of unwanted sulphur piling up in Canada and Florida. And Mike Lumley, who leads efforts at Shell to make use of the oil giant's sulphur bi-product, explains why the end of acid rain has opened up a surprising new source of demand.

Finally, Justin speaks to Dr Robert Ballard - the man who located the shipwreck of the Titanic - about why he actually considers a sulphur-linked oceanic discovery to be his greatest achievement.

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the p...

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table.

01Elements2014101120141012 (WS)

Sulphur is in abundant supply thanks to its extraction from sour oil and gas, in order to prevent acid rain pollution. But does the world face a glut of this devilish chemical element, famed for its colour and odour? And if so, what uses can it be put to?

Justin Rowlatt has his hair cut as professor Andrea Sella of University College London, demonstrates sulphur's surprisingly plastic - and acrid - qualities. He travels to the leafy London suburb of Twickenham to find out about Joshua Ward, the charlatan who set up the world's first sulphuric acid factory.

We hear from Richard Hands, editor of Sulphur magazine, about the element's many industrial uses, as well as the gigantic heaps of unwanted sulphur piling up in Canada and Florida. And Mike Lumley, who leads efforts at Shell to make use of the oil giant's sulphur bi-product, explains why the end of acid rain has opened up a surprising new source of demand.

Finally, Justin speaks to Dr Robert Ballard - the man who located the shipwreck of the Titanic - about why he actually considers a sulphur-linked oceanic discovery to be his greatest achievement.

Does the world face a looming glut of this devilish yellow element?

02Elements2014101820141019 (WS)

Justin Rowlatt looks at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the p...

02Silicon - Elements2014101820141019 (WS)

Is the element behind the computing revolution about to transform the world once again?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Silicon already transformed the world once courtesy of the computer chip. But could the chief ingredient of sand be on the verge of delivering another technological revolution, this time in an entirely different industry - solar energy? Justin Rowlatt travels to San Francisco to the headquarters of chip-maker Intel, the home of 'Moore's Law', to ask whether the exponential shrinkage of computer transistors it has delivered is about to hit the buffers.

He also meets the author of another 'law' of exponential change, Dick Swanson, founder of Sunpower, who explains why solar panels just keep on getting cheaper. We discover the solar industry's surprising hippie origins with pioneer John Schaeffer at his Solar Living Center, and the even more surprising support that rooftop solar now receives from the opposite end of the spectrum, in the form of Republican stalwart Barry Goldwater Jr.

02Silicon - Elements20141018

Is the element behind the computing revolution about to transform the world once again?

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Silicon already transformed the world once courtesy of the computer chip. But could the chief ingredient of sand be on the verge of delivering another technological revolution, this time in an entirely different industry - solar energy? Justin Rowlatt travels to San Francisco to the headquarters of chip-maker Intel, the home of 'Moore's Law', to ask whether the exponential shrinkage of computer transistors it has delivered is about to hit the buffers.

He also meets the author of another 'law' of exponential change, Dick Swanson, founder of Sunpower, who explains why solar panels just keep on getting cheaper. We discover the solar industry's surprising hippie origins with pioneer John Schaeffer at his Solar Living Center, and the even more surprising support that rooftop solar now receives from the opposite end of the spectrum, in the form of Republican stalwart Barry Goldwater Jr.

04Nitrogen - Elements2015031220150315 (WS)

The bringer of life and death on a massive scale, as well as an environmental headache.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Nitrogen is the bringer of life and death to mankind on a massive scale, but it may also threaten us with a potential environmental disaster as frightening as climate change.

Justin Rowlatt gets the chemical lowdown - replete with the inevitable bangs - from professor Andrea Sella of University College London. He travels to home of the Haber-Bosch process - which first cracked open nitrogen's explosive potential a century ago - at BASF's gigantic chemical works in Ludwigshafen.

We send our Washington DC correspondent Rajini Vadyanathan to a sewage works, while Justin heads for the John Innes Centre to meet Giles Oldroyd - a genetics researcher hoping to break man's nasty nitrogen addiction.

04Nitrogen - Elements20150312

The bringer of life and death on a massive scale, as well as an environmental headache.

Chemical elements: where do we get them and how do they fit into our economy?

Nitrogen is the bringer of life and death to mankind on a massive scale, but it may also threaten us with a potential environmental disaster as frightening as climate change.

Justin Rowlatt gets the chemical lowdown - replete with the inevitable bangs - from professor Andrea Sella of University College London. He travels to home of the Haber-Bosch process - which first cracked open nitrogen's explosive potential a century ago - at BASF's gigantic chemical works in Ludwigshafen.

We send our Washington DC correspondent Rajini Vadyanathan to a sewage works, while Justin heads for the John Innes Centre to meet Giles Oldroyd - a genetics researcher hoping to break man's nasty nitrogen addiction.

04 LASTElements2014103020141102 (WS)

Lead is the sweetest of poisons, so have we learnt how to handle this heavy metal?

Lead is the sweetest of poisons, blamed for everything from mad Roman emperors to modern-day crime waves. Yet a lead-acid battery is still what gets your car going in the morning. So have we finally learnt how to handle this heavyweight element? Justin Rowlatt travels to arts shop Cornelissen in London's Bloomsbury to find out why they have stopped stocking lead paints, and hears from professor Andrea Sella of University College London about the unique properties that have made this metal so handy in everything from radiation protection to glassware.

Yet lead in petrol is also accused of having inflicted brain damage on an entire generation of children in the 1970s, as the economist Jessica Wolpaw-Reyes of Amherst College explains. And, producer Laurence Knight travels to one of the UK's only two lead smelters - HJ Enthoven's at Darley Dale in Derbyshire, the historical heartland of the UK lead industry - to see what becomes of the lead in your car battery. And, we speak to the director of the International Lead Association, Andy Bush.