Just what the heck is Sakuradite?

Sakuradite

Today’s class is going to be on Sakuradite, which is the rare unobtanium that fuels all of the super technology found in the Code Geass Universe, including the iconic Knightmare Frames.  For those of you who haven’t seen Code Geass yet, your homework is go and watch it tonight, as for the rest of you, let’s see just what makes Sakuradite so treasured in the Code Geass Universe.

Sakuradite

Unprocessed Sakuradite

 

Sakuradite is a pink mineral that is only found in limited deposits around the world, with most of the world’s supply (70%) found in Japan.  If it were real, it might look a little something like this.

Spinel

Spinel

 

Pink minerals are not all that rare and this particular example is spinel which is repeating units of MgAl2O4.  Thus, I think it is safe to say that Sakuradite is a mineral with a unique combination of elements which gives it the unique properties it is coveted for.

As previously stated, Japan has 70% of the world’s supply, and can this actually happen, where one country can have a virtual monopoly on the supply of a particular mineral?  One only has to look at the real world production of rare earth minerals, which are minerals that contain rare earth metals, a fact that will become important later.

Current production of rare earth minerals

(Adapted from http://geology.com/articles/rare-earth-elements/)

Country Production (tons) Reserves (tons)
USA 4,100 1,800,000
Australia 10,000 3,200,000
China 105,000 55,000,000
Russia 2,500 Unknown
Thailand 2,100 Unknown
Malaysia 200 30,000
Brazil 0 22,000
India 0 3,100,000
Other countries Unknown 41,000,000
Total 123,900 104,152,000

 

As we can see China is currently responsible for 84.7% of the world’s production of rare earth minerals, and has 52.8% of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals.  Japan dominating the production of Sakuradite is entirely possible, albeit slightly unrealistic given that in the real world no small countries have any measurable amount of rare earth minerals, or at least that was the case until recently.

 

Update April 25th 2018

As of April 25th, 2018, a large deposit of rare earth minerals was found 1,900km south east of Tokyo, with in Japan’s economic zone.  The 2,500 square kilometer area could contain as much as 16 million tons of rare earth minerals. This is more than enough to supply the entire world, and cut China out of the rare earth mineral market.  The main problem at this time is mining it, since we are talking about mining mud on the bottom of the sea floor.  It could take up to 5 years to figure out how to effectively mine the deposit.  So I guess it is possible for Japan to have the vast majority of the worlds Sakuradite in Code Geass.

 

Unique properties of Sakuradite

Sakuradite has three main properties that make it unique in the Code Geass universe.

        1- Highly explosive

2- Radioactive

                                            3- High temperature superconductor

 

Reactivity

Sakuradite is reported to be highly explosive even in its natural state, where it has to be slowly shaved off the wall of the mine instead of more traditional methods.  I know of no known minerals that need to be mined in this way.  Also, the only naturally occurring substances that are explosive on their own without any sort of processing would be natural gas and oil and even then their explosive properties are limited in less than ideal conditions.  The one possible exception to this would be alkali metals and alkali earth metals, which in a pure state are extremely reactive in water as seen in the video below.

The thing is, those metals do not occur in a pure form in nature, given how reactive they are, and are normally found as salts or oxides, which are far less reactive.  Now after processing into a liquid form, Sakuradite is shown to be even more explosive, which could be possible if we knew what its chemical makeup is.  Seeing as the show never revealed that information, it is nearly impossible to tell if Sakuradite would be any more or less explosive as a liquid.

Given that it is described as liquid Sakuradite, we can assume that it has the same basic chemical makeup as the solid version, and we can assume that under real world conditions it would not be any more reactive than the solid version.  Again the explosive properties of Sakuradite are busted.  The exception to this rule would be liquid natural gas, which is more dangerous than the standard gaseous form.  However, it’s not that simple.  Liquid natural gas is actually not that explosive, but it can very quickly and easily turn into a gaseous state, which is explosive.  This had led to several accidents over the years, with the most recent accident taking place in 2004, in Algeria.  In conclusion, the highly reactive nature of Sakuradite does not match real world science whether it is in a solid or liquid form.

 

Radioactivity

Given my previous assertion that Sakuradite contains rare earth metals, then it comes as no surprise that it would have some degree of radioactivity due to the radioactive nature of some of the rare earth metals in the real world.  However, this is where it gets a little odd.  Now I don’t remember Sakuradite being discussed as radioactive in the show, but the wiki page does list it as being radioactive.  That could just be my bad memory, but Sakuradite is not the primary fuel for the Field Limitary Effective Implosion Armament (F.L.E.I.J.A.).  The Sakuradite is used to create an explosion to initiate nuclear fission, in the same way normal explosives are used to initiate nuclear fission in real world nuclear weapons.  After this point anime physics takes over and creates the distinct look and effect of the weapon.  So yes, Sakuradite can be radioactive.

 

Superconductivity

Superconductivity is a feature of certain materials when they are cooled below a certain point.  Below the critical temperature, the electrical resistance of the substance, or its ability to restrict the flow of the electrons drops to zero.  Thus at this point any electrical current introduced into the substance will continue to move around the substance as long as it remains below the critical temperature.  Another effect is that it will create a magnetic field, and this field will remain as long as the substance remains below the critical temperature.

 

The critical temperature for the first metal superconductors was at or below −243.2 °C, and this temperature has slowly increased over time to -218.47 °C.  This is due to the development of complex ceramics using rare earth metals such as yttrium.  Ceramics are made using a mixture of nonmetals, metals, and metalloids.  These unique mixtures allow for a more precise control of the electrical properties of the substance.  The most recent development is the use of hydrogen sulfide under high pressure to make a super conductor at -70 °C.

 

http://www.gizmag.com/record-high-temperature-superconductor/39056/

 

While this is a dramatic improvement it is still not the room temperature superconductivity that appears to be used in Code Geass.  At the current time scientists are divided on whether or not room temperature superconductors are even possible.  The idea of room temperature superconductors not being possible seems to be fading as new superconductors with higher critical temperatures continue to be discovered.  Thus, the idea of Sakuradite being a room temperature superconductor is plausible.

 

Conclusion

While individual parts of Sakuradite were confirmed or plausible, the explosive nature of the substance is what causes Sakuradite to be listed as busted, since there is just no scientific evidence supporting that particular characteristic.  Please leave any comments or sugestions in the comment section below.

busted

Sources

https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Hundreds-of-years-worth-of-rare-earths-found-in-Japan-territory

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/global-trove-rare-earth-metals-found-japans-deep-sea-mud

https://geology.com/articles/rare-earth-elements/

 

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