4
$\begingroup$

In my world, the price of zinc has recently risen to be double the price of gold for reasons that are outside of the scope of this question. This question works under the assumption that the world is more or less identical to our own technologically.

What alloys that involve zinc would no longer be useful or economically/commercially viable to make under these circumstances?

For example: Brass as a material will now be more valuable if it is melted down for zinc and copper, and will probably not be made or used in the way it was prior to the change in zinc prices.

I'm wanting to make sure there aren't any zinc alloys that I'm forgetting to account for. I may have another question about what could replace these alloys, but this question is Specifically about the economy aspect of this change.

Edit: here is the followup question What alloy could replace brass in most applications?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure it's an alloy that would see the biggest economic impact. It would probably be Galvanization. 55% of the world's Zinc is used for it. $\endgroup$ – Alonzo Muncy Feb 21 '17 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ Most writers deal with it by making gold, platinum etc magic metals in their world. These are already precious, so it changes nothing fundamental. And is already familiar for your readers. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Feb 22 '17 at 7:32
3
$\begingroup$

@AlonzoMuncy mentions galvanization in the comments, which was my first thought on this topic:

Galvanization is the process of applying a "coat" of zinc to iron/steel in order to prevent rust. There are several methods for this process.

So technically it's not an Alloy, but galvanized steel is very common in application.

More to the point Galvanized steel/iron is typically used in outdoor areas and doesn't generally serve a structural purpose (other then to hold up things like signs or lights). The most common galvanized objects most people would encounter are street sign posts, traffic light poles, and street lights. In more rural settings things like chain-link fencing and fence posts are also galvanized.

So a lot of the common infrastructure listed above would need a new form of rust-resistance or to be replaced by new materials entirely.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Nickel or chromium platings or aluminum coatings would likely be used instead of zinc coatings in this case $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Feb 21 '17 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Shalvenaya but zinc plating is fast and cheap. Chrome requires electrolitic process and toxic chemicals. Zinc can be done with fire alone. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Feb 22 '17 at 9:04
1
$\begingroup$

Too easy. Here is the list:

Brass

Lubaloy

Zamak

Pot metal

Tombac

Spelter

Superloy

Zinag

Zinagizado

Urushibara

This webpage might help you narrow down your search, too.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Mostly you will just see switching to a different metal for the bulk usages of zinc, so fewer zinc electrodes and electroplating. Brass is rarely made from new zinc it is mostly recycled. various steel alloys are often used as an alternative to brass as well so expect to see more of that used.

the sudden rise in price will cause many zinc mines to open, there is a lot of zinc out there but it is not worth it to mine it, as soon as the price goes up the mining of zinc will go through the roof. Zinc is the 24th most common element on earth so a rise in price will cause a flood in the zinc market causing prices to drop again.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think rarity is the main feature of a currencies material, otherwise our coins would still be made of gold or other precious metals $\endgroup$ – Culyx Feb 21 '17 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I fixed that. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 21 '17 at 20:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.