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Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU

A CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS OF STRATEGIC MATERIALS TOWARDS ENERGY TRANSITION

  • Michela Gallo - Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering (DICCA), University of Genoa, Italy
  • Luca Moreschi - Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering (DICCA), University of Genoa, Italy
  • Adriana Del Borghi - Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering (DICCA), University of Genoa, Italy

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Abstract

Global consumption of materials is rising rapidly leading to an increase in environmental impacts associated with the supply chain. Similar issues also affect a set of materials strategic for the transition towards a sustainable energy production and distribution system: i.e. materials employed in renewable energy (wind turbines and photovoltaic panels), energy storage, electrolysers, electricity distribution networks and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The analysis identifies, maps and defines a priority hierarchy for the environmental risks generated along the life-cycle of strategic raw materials. Standard construction material such as iron, steel and concrete showed the lowest environmental risks whereas platinum and iridium presented by far the highest impacts (respectively 24.098,04 and 14.732,51 kg CO2 eq, 353.893,39 and 215.934,28 MJ, and 140,24 and 83,20 m3 of water for 1 kg of raw material). Recycled materials have shown to enable the lowering of the environmental risk associated with some raw material production processes (i.e. copper, lead, aluminium, nickel, manganese), whereas specific materials (i.e. platinum, iridium, indium, dysprosium) and related applications will need to be monitored to guarantee a sustainable transition towards renewable energies.

Keywords


Editorial History

  • Received: 22 Jun 2022
  • Revised: 17 Aug 2022
  • Accepted: 15 Sep 2022
  • Available online: 30 Sep 2022

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