GMAT Critical Reasoning
Because mining and refining nickel is costly, researchers have developed an alternative method for extracting nickel using Streptanthus polygaloides, a plant that absorbs and stores nickel form the soil as it grows. The researchers incinerated a crop of Streptanthus they grew in nickel-rich soil. By chemically extracting nickel from the ash, they produced 100 pounds of nickel per acre of land at a total cost per pound slightly above that of current mining.
Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the conclusion that the use of Streptanthus to extract nickel will be commercially adopted?
- A The season in which the researchers grew Streptanthus was an unusually favorable one, with the right amount of precipitation to maximize the growth rate of Streptanthus.
- B Because lowering the concentration of nickel in the soil can make land much better for agriculture in general, a plot on which Streptanthus has been grown and harvested can be sold for substantially more than it cost.
- C More air pollution is generated for each pound of nickel produced by extracting it from Streptanthus than is generated using conventional mining and refining.
- D The land on which the researchers planted Streptanthus was unusually free of the various weeds that can compete with Streptanthus for water, nutrients, and sunlight.
- E It is extremely rare for soil to contain higher concentrations of nickel than the concentrations present in the researchers' experimental plot.
Correct Answer: B