The IRTC project, coordinated by ESM Foundation, has published a joint scientific paper by leading international experts on the link of material criticality and transitioning towards a more circular economy. The paper explores the potential benefits, as well as caveats, of adopting a circular economy approach to critical raw materials, based on the experiences and discussions organized by the IRTC project. The IRTC project has now entered its second phase “IRTC-Business”, with the long-term goal to develop guidance for companies concerning their exposure to criticality and suitable mitigation measures.
Rare Earth Elements (REE) are still considered as one of the most critical elements for industrial use and green technologies. However, it is now well known that the group of 17 individual elements is as diverse as any other 17 elements of the Periodic Table. The pure chemical similarity of the REEs is confronted with an extreme physical diversity. Today basically only the magnetic materials are of interest and drivers for the REE market. Phosphors like Europium and Yttrium, which were the most critical REEs just a few years ago, are still required but the paradigm change by introducing LED technology led to a enormous reduction of demand for phosphors. The […]
Graphite: soon the new black gold? Graphite is a soft, crystalline form of Carbon. Natural Graphite occurs in metamorphic rocks such as marble, schist, and gneiss. At present, graphite is the anode material of choice in batteries. It naturally occurs in three different variations: amorphous Graphite, flake or crystalline Graphite and vein or lump Graphite. it can also be produced synthetically. Battery grade material presently can only be produced from flake, vein and synthetic Graphite and the required purity for battery applications is at least 99,9%. In China, a rather low-cost process is being used which is disastrous for environment, workplace health and safety. Increasing demand for EVs however […]
No electromobility without lithium Due to the ever-growing battery sector, the demand for lithium has surged over the last years. In 2016, battery grade lithium accounted for about 35% percent of the lithium demand and soared to almost the double quantity of 65% of demand in 2019. Besides batteries, lithium is also used in ceramics and glass, lubricating greases, air treatment, casting and polymers (see figure below). Mining / Production Lithium is being produced from minerals or brines. The exploitation from minerals is relatively quick process, taking only a few days to produce high purity lithium. However, mineral exploitation is costly, requires energy, chemicals and water and produces waste. […]
Cobalt: the indispensable resource in batteries In modern high tech products, cobalt is one of the resources that are indispensable. Its main uses are displayed in the chart below. Currently, cobalt is a crucial ingredient for the manufacturing of all types of Lithium-Ion batteries, which is the main battery type used in electric vehicles. Yet, cobalt is considered as one of the most critical materials due to the high production dominance by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is primarily mined and produced as a by-product of nickel and copper production and hence its production is dependent on the mining and extraction of these commodities. Even though the DR Congo […]