Europe promotes the concept of a Circular Economy via intCEB internationalisation project

Europe is promoting the concept of a Circular Economy

Carbon footprints of urban transition: Tracking Circular Economy promotions in Guiyang, China

The intCEB research project is an internationalisation project supported by EIT RawMaterials that aims to foster best practice exchanges between China and Europe on a Circular Economy, running between April 2017 and April 2018. Experiences of various projects run by the partners in the project have been exchanged. This particular success story focused on the work of CML, Leiden University and Peking University and the Guiyang city government in China.

Via the joint research, several resource-efficiency options were designed that supported Guiyang city government to make their region more circular. Such options were included in the local planning policies and are being implemented in the local “13th Five-year planning” (2016-2020). Significant economic and environmental impacts were expected to be generated.

Over 500 jobs are expected to be generated via industrial symbiosis and new low-carbon industries development. Industries in the region became more resource-efficient and the carbon footprint was mitigated.

Developing a Sino-European research agenda for a Circular Economy

Europe has been actively promoting the concept of a Circular Economy. China, one of the most important economic blocks globally, already installed a law fostering the Circular Economy in 2009. The intCEB project analysed the knowledge supply and knowledge supply in both Europe and China on the following topics relevant to a Circular Economy, such as analytical tools and databases, as well as circular business design, governance and regional implementation practices. Based on the results, an overview was developed on how European knowledge partners representing the EIT RawMaterials Community can transfer knowledge and services to China, and in reverse.

The intCEB is the first project that created a structured analysis and exchange between Europe and China.

The collaboration fostered by the EIT RawMaterials is hence highly relevant for strengthening and disseminating the related EU policies internationally. 

Members of the intCEB project consortium:

  • Leiden University, The Netherlands (Lead Partner)
  • Fundación Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Spain
  • Ghent University, Belgium
  • Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden
  • National Technical University of Athens, Greece
  • Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • University of Bordeaux, France

Source: Raw Materials


EIT RawMaterials Expert Forum – connecting experts in the field of strategic and critical raw materials for electrification

Expert Forum gathered stakeholders from the battery value chain to drive innovation in strategic and critical metals for electrification.

Almost 200 stakeholders from across the battery, as well as magnet and e-drive value chains, gathered at the EIT RawMaterials workshop held in Darmstadt. The event was part of the European Battery Alliance initiative and the EIT RawMaterials Lighthouse Programme on Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility.

The objectives of this Expert Forum were to:

  • gather the community from across the value chain,
  • enable dialogue among those stakeholders,
  • identify key challenges and solutions.

This approach provided fertile grounds for consortia formation that drive innovation through specific projects. Representatives from 75 industry partners (Fig. 1), 29 universities, 12 research organisations, four policy units, and five associations gathered in Darmstadt, Germany. Specific fields of collaboration were identified.

Figure 1. Industry participants at the Expert Forum

Key conclusions from the Expert Forum:

  1. The awareness for the need for Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility is growing, which comes with a high innovation and business potential (Fig. 2). This is reflected by a large number of participants to the workshop. Beyond that, this is also reflected, for instance, by the fact that the European Commission has developed a value chain perspective in its Strategic Plan for Batteries, including the extraction and processing of primary and secondary raw materials. Funding to support innovation actions is made available through various channels (see Strategic Plan for Batteries). With its Lighthouse Programme Sustainable Material for Future Mobility, EIT RawMaterials – an innovation powerhouse funded by the European Commission – has committed a dedicated budget to support the up-scaling of technologies, education, and start-ups. Furthermore, the European Investment Bank has expressed its willingness to invest in raw materials related projects and the International Energy Agency finances a specific project on raw materials needs for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
  2. There are significant ore deposits for future mobility related raw materials in Europe that could be exploited. Many projects are in a development phase and are struggling with a slow official permitting process and with securing funding, particularly through equity financing. It would be beneficial to further support the creation of synergies among the European actors to create cross-value chain alliances. There is also a need to work on the branding of mining and social acceptance, and to translate this into a comprehensive support for mining projects.
  3. The sustainability of products gains importance and may offer a competitive advantage for cell manufacturers and equipment producers. There is a strong interest in sustainable sourcing, by increasing the transparency in value chains, improving the LCA toolset, and the development of standards and ecolabels. Blockchain technology offers new possibilities. The social aspects of raw materials value chain become a significant factor.
  4. The Circular Economy of e-drives, magnets, and batteries is in its infancy. Large fractions of end of life batteries and magnets are not yet collected and transported to processing facilities for recycling. There is a need for innovation in the collection, dismantling and sorting of the end of life products. Innovation, business creation, and education in these fields need to accelerate today, considering the steep increase in battery and magnet use, particularly in automotive applications. Safety and responsibilities in the handling of end of life batteries and second life use are of concern and require attention from a legal perspective.
  5. The processing capacities for battery raw materials and rare earths do exist in Europe except those for lithium. Innovation and business potentials are significant. Processing companies explicitly expressed their interest to collaborate with new suppliers to diversify their supply chain. A European lithium processing capacity is urgently needed to make use of European sources, that is, both primary as well as secondary raw materials. A European rare earth permanent magnet value chain does exist, including the processing of rare earths, the alloying, and magnet manufacturing. However, today, it is insignificant in terms of size, despite the existence of world-class rare earth deposits, leading research institutions and decades of engineering know-how. European companies are largely depending on a supply chain dominated by China and, to a certain extent, Japan. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for obtaining rare earths and respective materials along a non-Chinese supply chain, incl. Australia.
  6. There are significant battery materials manufacturing capacities in Europe and promising initiatives to kick-off large-scale cell manufacturing. Huge investments are needed to translate promising R&D&I initiatives into production facilities. There is consent that such investments need to start today to catch up quickly with Asian competitors. R&D&I initiatives should focus on advanced lithium-ion as well as solid-state batteries as the most promising technologies. Advanced cathode and anode materials were discussed, including the mass manufacturing of lithium metal electrodes.
  7. Today, there is no alternative to Nd-Fe-B permanent magnets for high energy density e-drive applications. Partial substitution of Nd by Ce or La and the use of recycled Nd-Fe-B would offer a cost-efficient alternative, reduce the environmental footprint of the e-drives, and mitigate supply chain risks. These options, as well as rare earth free motor designs, are currently explored by OEMs. Overall, the use of permanent magnet drives is exponentially growing, due to their advantages in energy density, energy efficiency, noise and robustness. Over the last few years, the greatest advances have been made in the material efficient processing of magnetic materials and the tuning of performance characteristics. Additive manufacturing represents the latest attempt to optimizes magnet manufacturing and integration in e-drives. This approach still faces many challenges, particularly when it comes to microstructure design. Thus, the field offers great innovation potential. Magnetic cooling represents an opportunity for disruptive innovation in energy efficient cooling, thus for drastically decreasing greenhouse gas emission as well as securing jobs and growth in a huge market. The innovation breakthrough of this technology will be enabled when three components are successfully harmonised: i) optimised magnetic materials, ii) optimized machine design (concept), and iii) identification of a meaningful niche market.

Figure 2. Cobalt demand forecasts for several applications. Source: DERA 2018

Source: Raw Materials


RawMaterials University Days 2018 in Italy gathered students to raise awareness of the raw materials for modern life and explore career opportunities in the raw materials sector

Raising awareness of the raw materials for modern life and exploring career opportunities in the raw materials sector.

This fall, EIT RawMaterials university partners from Italy, University of Padova and the University of Milano-Bicocca, opened its doors to the second edition of the RawMaterials Univerity Day 2018.

The second edition of RawMaterials University Day (RMUD) in 2018 took place over two days, on 27 and 28 September 2018, at the University of Padova in Italy. The RMUD events were part of the open dissemination event of the University of Padova entitled NEMES (Non è magia è scienza – It’s science, not magic). This successful event has taken place annually since 2007 and is open to the general public of the city of Padova.

EIT RawMaterials staff Dr Floriana La Marca, Education Manager, and Ellie Stephenson, Education Project Manager, ran a session on both Thursday and Friday, opening with a presentation of the problems we face in Europe concerning raw materials supply and the career opportunities in the sector, and followed by an interactive team quiz. Each session was attended by approximately 60 students. The target audience for this session was students (age group 10-16), particularly school leavers (age group 17-18), although all the NEMES and RMUD activities were open to the general public as well.

Attracting students’ attention to the raw materials topic with interactive learning experiences

Students had the opportunity to participate in real laboratory experiments and watch demonstrations. These included how to obtain coloured flames and how to use this test to identify metals; and using the same principle, to show how fireworks are made. Simple, harmless yet spectacular chemical reactions were performed with substances readily available in a supermarket or pharmacy. Students also learnt how polymers can be produced relatively easily, forming the molecules for the plastics and resins that we encounter in everyday life. There were presentations on the circular economy and on the critical elements contained within a smartphone.

The RMUD activities also included many fun and interactive learning experiences, including board games on critical raw materials. A particular highlight was the Crime Scene activity, where four teams of pupils examined the clues from a hypothetical crime scene set up in one of the department’s laboratories. Students completed tasks such as testing fingerprints using different raw materials in order to solve the case.

Older students also tackled an entrepreneurial challenge: to create a new company in the field of electronic waste. Organised in teams, they planned an entrepreneurial activity based on both their previous knowledge and the knowledge given by two experts, considering problems such as raw materials in electronic devices, circular economy and environmental sustainability and the product life cycle: recycling and reuse in the context of a sustainable business model.

Study and career opportunities specifically targeted to Bachelor, Master and PhD degree students in the area of raw materials research and technology were demonstrated with live testimonials from the Alumni di Chimica UniPd group, dedicated talks of invited speakers from industry, and specific info points dedicated to careers in this area.

Many students already involved in their thesis work were actively involved as demonstrators and speakers. The entire raw materials value chain was highlighted with a particular emphasis on processing, recycling, substitution and circular economy.

The 3rd edition of RMUD in 2018 took place at the University of Milano-Bicocca on 25 October 2018, with over 200 students participating.

The day opened with a conference event aimed at students in their final years of school and Bachelor level students in science and engineering. An opening speech from the university’s Pro Rector for Research, Professor Gianfranco Pacchioni, was followed by three inspiring presentations: Professor Cinzia Cristiani of Politecnico di Milano spoke about the problems we face as a society related to raw materials, Dr Armida Torreggiani from the Italian National Research Council presented the successful schools network [email protected] and Dr Floriana La Marca, Education Manager at EIT RawMaterials Innovation Hub (CLC) South, discussed the exciting study and career opportunities in the raw materials sector. The session closed with a quiz on raw materials, run by Ellie Stephenson, Education Project Manager at EIT RawMaterials. Students could participate interactively via their smartphone to win a portable power bank.

In the afternoon, students could visit the university’s laboratories and participate in interactive thematic workshops, including those run by successful spin-offs of the University of Milano-Bicocca, covering topics such as biomaterials and nanotechnology. There were also stands set up in the department foyer with games and experiments. For example, representatives from the RawMaterials [email protected] project invited participants to play a game about critical raw materials and the elements found in a mobile phone, and the company Minerali Industriali SRL and university spin-off Graftonica presented their activities and answered questions about career opportunities in the sector.

Source: Raw Materials

Expert Forum: Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility

Almost 200 stakeholders from across the battery as well as magnet and e-drive value chains gathered at the EIT RawMaterials workshop held in Darmstadt. The event was part of the European Battery Alliance initiative and the EIT RawMaterials Lighthouse Program on Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility.

The success of the Mobility Transition fundamentally depends on the access to sustainable raw materials and advanced materials. The environmental footprint of a low emission vehicle is profoundly determined by those of the materials used. Acceleration, drive range, and reliability – to name a few factors – are particularly influenced by the underlying materials in the energy storage system and the e-drives.

The objectives of this Expert Forum were to i) gather the community from across the value chain, ii) enable dialogue among those stakeholders, and iii) identify key challenges and solutions. Representatives from 75 industry partners, 29 universities, 12 research organisations, 4 policy units, and 5 associations gathered in Darmstadt. Specific fields of collaboration were identified.

Source: Raw Materials


EIT RawMaterials promotes research and innovation for the Circular Economy

EIT RawMaterials has been awarded its first Horizon 2020 project CICERONE on Circular Economy

EIT RawMaterials achieves its first Horizon 2020 project in Circular Economy and becomes a member of one of the four consortia selected by DG Environment supporting Green Growth and Circular Economy.

Project CICERONE is a CSA (Coordinated and Support Action) that brings together program owners, research organizations, and other stakeholders to create a platform for efficient Circular Economy programming.

CICERONE brings together programme owners, research organizations and other stakeholders to create a platform for efficient Circular Economy programming. The priority setting and the organization of the future platform will be driven by Programme Owners (POs), involved either as project partners, or via a stakeholder network. Diversity of national / regional situations is reflected in the partnership. The work will be carried out in close cooperation with research & technology organisations (RTOs), which contribute with their expertise of the main scientific and technological challenges. Consultation mechanisms will also ensure that all stakeholders will be able to actively contribute (civil society, industry, innovative SMEs, startups, cities, investors, networks, etc.).

Among the members the CICERONE consortia, the EIT RawMaterials community is represented by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, TNO, VITO, VTT, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.

The project will also set the grounds for the future PO platform, starting with defining its strategic role in the existing landscape. The next step will be to specify governance and possible legal frameworks, as well as creating a financially sustainable model. It is a key objective that the platform is sustained after the end of the project.

EIT RawMaterials participates in one of the four consortia selected by the DG Environment to provide support on Circular Economy

EIT RawMaterials as a member of one of the four selected consortia has participated and was selected to support DG Environment in the field of Circular Economy and Green Growth through a number of specific activities such as: development and management of stakeholder platforms; organisation and running of technical helpdesks assisting stakeholders (including experts) on specific topics; establishment of fora for a regular exchange of best practices between stakeholders (including database development and website content); secretariats for policy initiatives and events or awards (e.g. for the EBAE or Green Capital).

For more information:

Source: Raw Materials