In the future, we will continue to depend heavily on metals. Lightweight aluminum alloys will be utilized more in automobiles to increase fuel efficiency. New, heat resistant superalloys will be developed so that engines can operate at higher, more efficient temperatures. Similarly, ceramic coatings will be used more to protect metals from high temperatures, and to increase the lifetime of tools. New, radiation-resistant alloys will allow nuclear power plants to operate longer, and thus lower the cost of nuclear energy.
Steel will continue to be the most commonly used metal for many years to come, due to its very low cost (approximately 20 cents/pound) and the ability to customize its properties by adding different alloying elements.
Finally, as easily-mined, high grade ores are depleted, recycling will become more important. Already, half of all aluminum, copper, and steels are being recycled.