Let’s play a game to see how familiar you are with minerals and the ION4RAW process!
#1. It is only because mineral resources on the planet are limited that we need to recycle them?
Incorrect, some minerals are available in relative abundance on the planet but recycling them is still important for two reasons :
First, it would reduce our dependency on foerign exports. As minerals are highly concentrated in particular regions of the globe, Europe’s mineral supply security in the event of geopolitical issues can be economically dangerous, as we could see with the Ukrainian crisis.
Second, recycling is more sustainable than extracting. Valorising waste containing minerals decreases Europe’s environmental impacts caused by mining.
#2. Are minerals used in Medicine?
Try again! Many CRMs are essential in the conception of vital medical devices. For instance, tantalum can be used to replace bones, connect torn nerves or bind abdominal muscle because it causes no immune response. Likewise, because titanium is biocompatible (non-toxic and not rejected by the body), it is often used in medical implants such as pacemakers, as well as niobium which is physiologically inert and hypoallergenic.
If minerals can contribute to saving life, we must make sure we never run out of supply! As depending on foreign imports can be risky, we should guarantee our independancy by finding solutions to extract and recover minerals in Europe, and in a sustainable manner! Discover the Objectives of our ION4RAW project to learn more about this challenge!
#3. Will minerals play a positive role in the transition to clean energy ?
You almost got it! Minerals, including Critical Raw Materials, are essential to the transition. For instance, they are needed to create the batteries and magnets needed for wind turbines and electric vehicles motors.
In fact, an energy system powered by renewable energy requires more critical raw materials than a fossil-based one. An electric car for instance requires 6 times more mineral than a regular car!
As the supply needs increase, we need to find solutions to extract and recover CRMs in a sustainable manner! This is the challenge our ION4RAW project tries to tackle! Visit our Objectives page to learn more!
#4. Are Critical Raw Materials called so solely due to supply risk?
Wrong, CRMs are minerals combining high economic importance to the EU with a high risk associated with their supply.
The European Commission has created a list of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs), updated periodically, and based on a criticality assessment at the EU level. The criticality assessment includes close monitoring of the raw materials’ current and expected future needs, as well as the risk of potential shortages due to natural, technical, or political factors.
The ION4RAW project works on the recovery of six of those CRMs, namely antimony, platinum (PGMs), and cobalt, bismuth, indium, and germanium. Learn about their criticallity (economic strategic importance and supply risks) on our dedicated ION4RAW targeted minerals page.
#5. Are minerals useful to the Agricultural sector?
Incorrect! Even the agricultural sector can use CRMs to its advantage. Borate, for instance, has fungicidal and sporicidal properties and thus can be used to protect the wood from insects and rots. Another example of CRM useful in agriculture is phosphate, an important plant nutrient involved in energy transfers, roots strength, and photosynthesis. Aside from his fertilizing properties, phosphate is also used in animal-feed supplements and in food preservatives.
And this is all natural! Minerals can thus help us replace dangerous substances, but we need to supply them sustainably! Visit our Objectives page to discover the innovative extraction process developed by our partners !