With two months to go in 2013, the U.S. Mint already has surpassed last year’s sales of American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins and is on track to beat the 2011’s all time high record. “People see silver as an important part of their portfolios. They’re buying in larger quantities than they used to buy.” — Terry Hanlon, President of Dillon Gage Metals.
Advances of Silver in Industrial Applications
In the latest Silver Institute newsletter, several advances have been reported when it comes to applications of silver in industry. In particular, the industrial applications are in the field of photography (first article), bio-batteries (second article), clean energy (third article) and energy (fourth article).
Courtesy: Silver Institute
A Place for Silver in the Growing “Slow Photography” Movement
There’s a new trend gaining speed in the age of digital photography: so-called “slow photography” using old-fashioned silver-halide film. The slow photography movement has been gaining traction in recent years in the same way that some audiophiles have rejected digital music because they believe that vinyl is truer to the original sound. To slow-movement photographers, silver halide films produce richer, more nuanced images than digital cameras.
Since the movement began several years ago (although some would say it never truly disappeared) websites such as The Impossible Project help newcomers find sources for what they term “analog instant photography” and what most others call Polaroid Instant camera photography. According to the website, about 300 million of these cameras are still around and functioning, so it’s just a matter of finding them at garage sales, at thrift shops and in attics. The website also directs users to brick and mortar stores as well as other websites where they can purchase the once common instant film. In 2008, the Impossible Project team saved the last Polaroid production plant for instant film in Enschede, The Netherlands.
In a recent Washington Post story, Impossible Project vice president Dave Bias suggested why people are attracted to the old technology.“ Our demographic is pretty young, so we’re talking about a generation who grew up in digital, and they see our film as a way to escape.” He adds: “But it’s not all about nostalgia. For us, it’s showing that film has a viable place in the modern world,” he says. “People can have a real physical photo – something they can touch, something tangible.”
Silver May be the Key to Bio-Batteries Made from Waste-water and Sewage
Recent researches into alternative sources of electricity have shown that when bacteria touch iron oxide, the proteins on the surface of the germs produce small amounts of electrical current. Now, further studies show that by introducing silver oxide, the microbes can generate even more electricity. This most recent study at Stanford University may help scientists and engineers in their quest for the production of so-called bio-batteries that can produce substantial amounts of electricity from waste-water, contaminants and sewage.
The researchers postulate that it should be possible, in theory at least, to connect bacteria directly to electrodes (the positive one is called an anode) that would then carry the electricity away in the normal fashion. During the process, microorganisms attached to the anode (often made of iron oxide) would start grabbing electrons from organic compounds dissolved in the waste-water to produce carbon dioxide and clean water. Harnessing these free electrons, however, has proved to be a challenge.
The Stanford team learned that when silver oxide is introduced to the area around the anode, the silver compound consumes electrons, literally pulling them out of the bacteria and sending them on their way. Why silver oxide works better than iron oxide is not fully understood; researchers suggest that it may be related to silver’s extremely high electrical conductivity, the highest of any element. Stanford’s research titled, Microbial Battery For Efficient Energy Recovery, has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Silver Helps to Produce More Hydrogen for Clean Energy Uses
“Water splitting,” or artificial photosynthesis, is a way to convert the energy of sunlight into chemical energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen. (It’s the opposite of a fuel cell.) The hydrogen can then be used for clean energy, especially in vehicles.
However, it’s generally an inefficient method so scientists are using a zinc-oxide/silver photoelectrode — which is very susceptible to sunlight — to produce more hydrogen. First, a laser is directed at a silver oxide film, which loosens silver particles. The silver enhances the light collecting properties of a zinc oxide array by scattering and then soaking light energy at different angles. The end result is that much more sunlight is absorbed which, according to a research team at National Taiwan University led by Hao Ming Chen, results in up to 200 percent greater production of hydrogen than without the silver particles.
With a Dash of Sulfur, Silver Nano-particles Take Giant Leap into the World of Medicine
Silver has found many uses in medicine as a medium to deliver drugs into patients, cell imaging and other applications. For all its positive attributes, though, silver nano-particles have some drawbacks. The most critical is that it readily oxidizes, allowing it to degrade rather quickly once inside the body.
Scientists at the University of Toledo may have solved the problem by creating silver nano-particles that are much more stable than had previously been thought possible. The solution came about by accident. The researchers were measuring how silver interacts with light – silver is one of the world’s most reflective materials – and they attached sulfur-containing molecules to silver nano-particles as a way to aid in examining absorption levels.
They discovered that the silver nano-particles, which normally come in many sizes, were now all the same size. This uniform ‘sizeness’ led to stability in the nano-particles’ structures. In other words, the structure became compact, packed tightly with the same-sized, close-fitting atoms and therefore more immune to outside forces (oxygen and other elements) that would normally interact and degrade it.
“We’ve created stable silver nano-particles in massive quantities and in a very pure form, using a less expensive substance than some of the traditional methods using gold,” said Terry Bigioni, a chemist at the University of Toledo who helped lead the study. Gold has been traditionally used instead of silver because it was more stable, albeit more expensive. Now, silver nano-particles have closed that usability gap. “Their purity is a huge advantage for biomedical applications.”
United States Mint’s American Eagle Silver Coins on the verge of a record break
American Eagle Silver Coins sales through mid-October totaled 36,954,500 compared to 33,742,500 for all of 2012. With sales averaging over 3.5 million coins per month this year, beating 2011’s record setting sales of 39,868,500 appears to be in reach. In an interview with Silver News earlier this year, Richard A. Peterson, Deputy Director of the United States Mint, outlined several reasons for the coin’s popularity. “The American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin enjoys a dominant market share worldwide. While the price of gold continues to trade at levels that puts gold bullion coins out of the reach of many investors, silver remains relatively affordable. Add to this the American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin’s unique backing by the U.S. Government and its beautiful and uniquely American design and you can see why demand for these coins has continued to grow.”
The United States Mint recently provided authorized purchasers with information on year end ordering procedures and the availability of 2014-dated releases for the American Eagle and American Buffalo bullion programs. Based on the details provided, it seems that the American Silver Eagle bullion coins will experience roughly one month of unavailability between the final allocation of 2013-dated coins and the release of the first 2014-dated coins.
The US Mint distributes gold and silver bullion coins through a network of authorized purchasers. Primary distributors are able to purchase the coins in bulk quantities directly from the Mint at a price based on the market price of the metals plus a fixed or percentage mark up. The coins are then resold to other bullion dealers, coin dealers, and the public.
Authorized purchasers have been informed that the US Mint plans to have inventories of 2013-dated American Gold Eagle and American Gold Buffalo bullion coins available going into the month of December. These coins will remain available until consumed. Additionally a small quantity of 2012-dated Gold Eagle bullion coins remains available.
Orders will be accepting for the 2014-dated Gold Eagle and Gold Buffalo bullion coins on Thursday, January 2, 2014. The US Mint intends to have sufficient quantities of the coins available to meet demand and as such orders will not be subject to allocation. Last year, the US Mint had opened orders for the 2013-dated coins on January 2, 2013, also without allocation.
The situation for American Silver Eagle bullion coins differs from the prior year. Authorized purchasers will be offered the last weekly allocation of 2013-dated coins on Monday, December 9, 2013. With demand continuing to run ahead of the available supplies, the allocation will likely be quickly depleted.
The 2014-dated Silver Eagle bullion coins will not be available to order until Monday, January 13, 2014. The initial release will be subject to the US Mint’s allocation program, which rations supplies amongst the authorized purchasers.
Last year, the US Mint had unexpectedly sold out of 2012-dated Silver Eagles on December 17, 2012. Orders were first accepted for the 2013-dated coins on January 7, 2013. The roughly three week void in availability contributed to an opening day sales total of 3,937,000 coins, which seems to have been the highest ever one-day sales for American Silver Eagles. This was followed by another temporary sell out with sales resumed under the allocation program, which has remained in effect throughout the year.
With a potentially wider gap in availability for the popular silver bullion coins, the US Mint may see even more intense demand for the 2014-dated release.
Perth Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Sales Remain Strong in October
Perth Mint gold and silver bullion sales remained strong for a second month, benefiting from a price dip in precious metals and the release of new coin designs.
For the month of October, sales of silver coins and minted products reached 821,579.77 troy ounces. This represented a decline from the prior month when sales were 961,977.07 ounces. However, it was a sharp gain of nearly 80% compared to the year ago period when sales were 457,700.76 ounces.
During the month, the Perth Mint reported that the Australian Lunar Series II 2014 Year of the Horse 1 oz Silver Bullion Coins officially sold out. These were limited to a mintage of 300,000 pieces. The coins are also available in 1/2 oz, 2 oz, 5 oz, 10 oz, and 1 kilo sizes without mintage limits, as well as a 10 kilo size limited to 200 pieces.
Sales of gold coins and minted products for October 2013 reached 77,255.18 troy ounces, representing the third highest monthly total of the year. The amount represented an increase from the prior month when 68,488.06 ounces were sold and also an increase from the year ago period when sales were 54,242.76 ounces.
During the month, the Perth Mint began accepting orders for the 2014 Australian Kangaroo Gold bullion coins, which feature a depiction of a kangaroo set against a fenced rural property. The coins are available in 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, 1 oz, and 1 kilo sizes.
Perth Mint Bullion Sales in Troy Ounces for 2013
Data Source Coinupdate.com
The US Mint’s Monthly Sales of Silver for 2013:
|Till 5th NOV||500,000|
The US Mint’s Annual Sales of Silver from 2001 till Nov 5, 2013:
|Year||Silver Ounces||Monthly Avg.|
Sales of silver in Nov till the 5th, 2013 have been 500,000 ounces.
The US Mint’s sales Silver to Gold ratio:
|Month||Gold Ounces||Silver Ounces||Ratio of Silver Oz bought per Gold Oz|