Industrial Silver Demand Is Up and the Latest Technological Innovations that will Drive Prices

Industrial silver demand rose, US silver jewelry sales were solid, and mine supply fell in 2017.

The Silver Institute highlighted silver supply and demand trends from its World Silver Survey 2018 along with some new technological innovations utilizing the white metal in its latest edition of Silver News.

Industrial demand for silver rose in 2017 for the first time in four years fueled by record photovoltaic growth. Global silver industrial fabrication demand rose 4% to 599.0 million ounces.

The jewelry and silverware sectors also experienced noteworthy gains in 2017.

Jewelry retailers in the United States described strong silver jewelry sales last year, with 59% reporting increased sales in 2017, according to a survey conducted on behalf of the Silver Institute’s Silver Promotion Service (SPS).

On the supply side, global mine output fell for the second consecutive year, following an uninterrupted streak of 13 annual increases prior to 2016. Silver scrap supply also fell, continuing a downward trend we’ve seen since 2012.

The latest issue of Silver News also features some fascinating technological developments related to silver.

Silver nanoparticle-based films that are 80 times thinner than a human hair can hold more than 1,000 times the data of a DVD on a piece as small as 100 square centimeters. The films, composed of silver nanoparticles and the semiconductor titania, hold promise for storing information optically as 3-D holograms.

Demand for silver and other metals will likely rise in what the World Bank calls a “carbon-constrained future,” according to a report from that organization. The report noted that technologies including wind, solar, fuel cells, batteries, electrolysis, hydrogen storage, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting will all use silver, and that the metal is crucial to the transition to a low carbon economy by 2050.

Using a mixture of silver and tree extract may enhance soil, meaning healthier plants and crops. A combination of silver nanoparticles and extracts of the Northern White-Cedar, an evergreen tree native to North America, has shown to be beneficial to plant growth, according to a team of Asian researchers.

Silver could help produce hydrogen for fuel and electricity. A University of Houston researcher, working with a colleague in Taiwan, hopes to produce hydrogen by using only water and sunlight. The method uses hollow silver-gold nanoshells to boost the efficiency of catalysts that are powered by the sun, known as photocatalysts. The nanoshells spur the photocatalyst to absorb a wider range of available light thus allowing the system to more efficiently use sunlight and separate hydrogen from water, leaving only oxygen as a byproduct.

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