Long the pursuit of scientists the world over, a Princeton University researcher has devised a means of alchemy by transforming common elements into rare and valuable ones. Dr. Paul Chirik isn't actually turning boring metals into gold and platinum, but his lab has figured out how to make relatively inexpensive and abundant metals like iron behave like platinum in catalytic chemical reactions, which are a major consumer of precious metals in industry. His research could make an impact across industries, making it cheaper to produce everything from textiles to cosmetics to adhesives (and that's just naming a few).
Not to mention, wrapping iron molecules in organic molecules to alter their characteristics is way, way cheaper than mining asteroids. Read the whole story over at the NYT.
Just make cheap solar panels with alchemy to mimic those hard to find rare Earth elements or whatever else that makes solar panels so expensive.
Cheap power is what the USA could use and making, installing and maintaining solar panels, power supplies and power storing facilities makes jobs too.
Making cheap catalytic converters would be a major hit. Hopefully there are other similar applications.