The creation of metals is an often forgotten but critical business involved in most modern innovations. And since startup fever is all over innovative techniques, startups are starting to spread to those slower-moving industries that can support the "disruptors." Infinium is one such startup. They've found a cheap and environmentally-clean way to make the rare earth metals neodymium and dysprosium. And these metals are important because they make magnets that are integral in the generators found in wind turbines and electric car motors.
The polluting problem is in the process of taking metal oxides (metal bound to oxygen, among other elements) and isolating the pure metal by placing the oxides in molten salt while an electric current runs through the mixture. The problem is that this process releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide. So what the researchers at Infinium have done is replace the carbon electrode, which creates the electric current and the CO2, with a ceramic material made of zirconium oxide, to obviate the carbon emissions.