Metals play a very important part in our modern world. We use metals for building houses, bridges, making drink cans and jewellery. Some are used in huge amounts, like iron and aluminium. Others are used in small amounts, like tungsten and palladium.
Nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons also use metals, such as uranium and plutonium. These metals create huge amounts of radioactive energy.
Copper cables are used to transport electricity across long distances —these cables are supported by large steel pylons.
What is a metal?
The world is made up of thousands of different substances — water, salt and wood are just a few examples. These substances are made up from one or more of about 100 basic substances — called ‘elements’. Seventy elements are metals. Metals are usually shiny, strong and good conductors of heat and electricity.
Our use of metals can be costly to the environment, unless properly controlled. Open cast mines can scar the landscape and destroy natural habitats; processing metals can release huge amounts of chemicals into the atmosphere; discarded metal is an eyesore; and at present the disposal of radioactive metals is unsatisfactory.
Picture Credit : Google