Reports

Overview of Raw Materials Sector in Circular Economy and Trends in Technology and Business Fields

This report provides an overview of trends in technologies and business fields which may generate substantial CRM supply risks challenging a circular economy (CE) in terms of research and development (R&D) regarding recyclability and the economic viability of recycling. The overview as given in Chapter two include future technologies and their expected RMs demands, recycling rates of critical raw materials (CRMs), as well as market and technical factors identified which can affect the development of secondary RMs market. By comparing the expected RMs demands of future technologies with todays´ recycling rates of CRMs, it can be seen that the demands of many CRM will be significantly higher than the present global primary production and rather low recycling rates. E.g. the demands of rare earth elements (REEs) and tantalum are expected to increase significantly from 2013 to 2035 but the recycling rates are currently lower than 1%. The low recycling rates can be explained by a number of factors, such as profitability, accessibility of primary RM, but also technical barriers and limits just given by the chemistry and physics of the elements considered. In order to increase CRMs (or RMs) recycling rates and develop the secondary RMs markets, many more factors should be taken into consideration, and therefore, are introduced in the same chapter, for instance, supplies and demands in the global RMs market, policies relevant to technologies and RMs, and the principles of metallurgy (i.e. metal wheels) in turn with present-days furnace technology. One of the aims of this report is also to introduce the general CE R&D needs in metal recycling (i.e. from product designs to metallurgy processes) and specific R&D needs in metallurgy sector for recovering RMs from secondary sources. In Chapter two the specific R&D needs are summarised from the RMs used in exemplarily two application case studies comprising key technologies of some of the most pressing societal challenges (i.e. Chapter three: Domestic energy storage and Chapter four: Electric vehicles (EVs)). The CE R&D needs are identified to provide potential R&D topics with impact on securing the supply of CRM, reducing the dependency on primary sources and consequently contributing to CICERONE SRIA.

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