Limiting the impacts of technology materials for the low carbon transition

Coal mine

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers from the University of Exeter, Minviro, the British Geological Survey and the Circular Economy Solutions Unit have shown the benefits of using life cycle analysis (LCA) in improving “green” mining techniques.

Life cycle assessments are used to assess the environmental impacts related to the life cycle of commercial products from the extraction of raw materials through use to disposal.

With the growing demand for a transition too renewable energy sources, the need for sustainable, environmentally friendly raw materials and technology metals has increased.

As a result, the search for rare earth minerals, lithium, cobalt and graphite for electric car batteries, turbines and solar panels, among other things, has increased – with minimal impact on the natural environment.

In the new scientific review published in Nature ratings earth & environment, the research team outlines how a life cycle assessment that integrates considerations on geology, mineralogy and “geometallurgy” can help identify potential “hot spots” before new mining operations begin.

This new approach will allow geologists to select potential exploration targets that are inherently suitable for lower environmental impact, resulting in the best metal deposits being found with the least potential natural disturbance.

Professor Frances Wall of the University of Exeter’s Camborne School of Mines said: “There is a great opportunity for countries to use their natural resources to support decarbonization, but it is important that it be done the right way, so that it produces ” Sustainable development and not a disaster. ”

Robert Pell of Minviro and the University of Exeter and lead author of the paper added, “The preparation of this review was an excellent opportunity to bring together the results of recent academic research and the experiences of our Minviro consulting business.”

Dr. Xiaoyu Yan of the Institute for Environment and Sustainability at Exeter University said, “Understanding the environmental impact of new technologies across their lifecycle, especially those raw material The tier of clean energy technologies is critical to ensure that they are truly sustainable. ”

Research underscores ethical sourcing of materials for modern technologies

More information:
Robert Pell et al., Towards the Sustainable Extraction of Technology Materials through Integrated Approaches, Nature ratings earth & environment (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s43017-021-00211-6

Quote: Limiting the Impact of Technology Materials on the Low Carbon Transition (2021, September 21), accessed on September 21, 2021 from carbon.html

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