The challenges of recycling sustainable energy and cleantech applications

This research addresses the question: Are we running out of critical resources? The main purpose of this research is to bridge knowledge gaps between planning, design, production, use and end-of-life (EOL) management of sustainable energy and cleantech infrastructure from the point of critical raw materials (CRMs).

A raw material is labelled ‘critical’ when the risks of supply shortage and their impacts on the economy are higher compared with most of the other raw materials. Many of these materials are essential components used in carbon-free energy technologies; however, there are no efficient recycling technologies that can recover the critical materials from them.  Therefore,  CRMs are typically end up in ‘final sinks’ from where they are not recoverable.

In this project, the key sustainable energy and cleantech applications dependent on critical materials will be mapped and the main stages of life-cycles where dissipation of CRMs occurs will be identified for selected case CRMs. Clean cycles and final sinks will be studied more deeply in order to develop guidelines for reducing dissipative losses of critical materials. Ultimately, we will provide recommendations for improved EOL management of CRMs containing electronic wastes.

This project is performed as a post-doctoral research of Dr. Jenni Ylä-Mella.

The research is funded by the Kone Foundation.

Last updated: 20.9.2016