Electrifying Vehicles: The Role of Circular Economy in Reducing Mining Demand

The Future of Electric Vehicles: Sustainability through Circular Economy

As the world shifts towards electric vehicles to combat climate change, concerns arise about the impact on raw materials. A study published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling sheds light on the potential increase in resource extraction and introduces strategies to mitigate its effects.

The global demand for raw materials for electric vehicles is expected to triple by 2050, with lithium-ion batteries accounting for 50% of the total resource use. However, implementing circular economy strategies can ensure sustainability without exceeding current levels of resource use.

In the study, researchers analyzed the total material requirement for electric vehicle batteries in three scenarios: Reference Technology Scenario (RTS), 2 Degree Scenario (2DS), and Beyond 2 Degrees Scenario (B2DS). The findings show that the demand for raw materials increases in all three scenarios, with the B2DS scenario expecting a 22.7% increase in demand.

To address the issue, the researchers introduced circular economy strategies that can reduce the demand for minerals by half or maintain it at 2015 levels. These strategies include:

* Extending the life of vehicles
* Promoting car and ride-sharing services
* Improving recovery and recycling materials in new vehicles
* Improving fuel efficiency
* Adopting longer-lasting solid-state batteries

Ridesharing and recycling had the greatest impact, reducing resource demand by 37.0% to 43.0% and 33.0% to 39.6%, respectively. Improvements in fuel economy also contributed significantly, with a reduction in resource demand ranging from 10.2% to 21.8%. The shift to solid-state batteries also reduced the need for additional resources by 30.6% to increase battery capacity and 29.1% to replace it.

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As demand for electric vehicles is expected to grow rapidly, implementing circular economy strategies will be crucial to meeting resource demands. According to Dr. Kosai, lead researcher of the study, “The electrification of vehicles can be achieved without increasing the use of resources if a set of circular economy strategies is implemented at the same time and in an ambitious manner.”

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