Late in 2015, entrepreneur Cillian McMinn sought to answer a question: “What’s the coolest thing I could put on my desk?” His answer was the “Element Cube” – a compact cube made with an alloy containing “every element from Aluminum to Zirconium.”
To realize his vision of bringing the Element Cube to collectors, metallurgists and science enthusiasts, McMinn took his idea to the crowd-funding site, Kickstarter.com. It was fully funded in just 4 days. When the month-long campaign ended, 1,890 backers had pledged £93,173 (about $140,000) toward the project.
The 1.5” cube is created using industrial-scale sintering, which involves taking the powdered version of each element and applying intense pressure to fuse them all together. Sintering is a flexible technique that can work for creating all sorts of designs, so necklaces and bracelets made with the alloy are also available.
To clarify, the alloy used to create the Element Cube contains 62 elements, but there are more than 62 elements on the Periodic Table. However, not all of those elements are suitable for collecting – some are radioactive, only naturally occur as a gas, or can only be synthesized in laboratories under precise conditions. Still, the cube is an impressive way to fit more than half of the building blocks that make up the planet in the palm of your hand.
While the formula has not been published, each Element Cube comes with a material analysis report from an independent firm confirming the presence of all 62 elements. It’s a report we’d be interested in seeing. How much gold silver, platinum, and palladium is in each cube? Judging from the £55 ($80) price tag, it’s not much. And to answer your burning question: yes, we could refine one. No job is too big or too small, and no alloy is too complex for our refining process!