Sustainable Production and Resource Scarcity

Industrial production requires significant amounts of raw materials and has a considerable impact on the environment (e.g. production of greenhouse gases, use of energy, generation of waste) raw materials. One example is construction materials, especially concrete and asphalt, which are produced in large quantities worldwide.
The addition fly ash - an industrial by-product from coal combustion - can be used to improve the sustainability of cement and concrete.

On the one hand, the production of cement, which is the principal binder used in concrete, significantly contributes to the emission of CO2, counting for about 5-8% of worldwide CO2-emissions with a strong increasing tendency. On the other hand, the preservation of our in-frastructure and its adaptation to present needs demands the replacement of existing structures. As a result, large volumes of building waste accumulate. Another example is the topic of scarce elements such as antimony, indium, platinum group metals, rare earth elements or tantalum, which are increas-ingly being used in emerging technologies. For these raw materials, there is increasing concern regard-ing the resilience of their supply chains and sustainability issues, including losses through dissipative uses.


We focus on the following key questions:


  • How can product lines get improved from a sustainability perspective?
    • Goal: Development of approaches for integrated assessment of technical options, environmen-tal impacts and costs.
    • Examples: Recycling of asphalt and concrete, use of waste materials in cement production, new types of cement with lower environmental impact


  • What is the future potential of a technology in a society?
    • Goal: Assessment of new technologies which are potentially beneficial for society. Reduction of environmental and societal risks of introduced new technologies by giving early warnings of critical developments in technology applications.
    • Examples: Sustainability assessment of biofuels, electromobility, nanotextiles


  • How vulnerable are existing and future technologies and production systems with regard to scarce / critical raw materials supply risks?
    • Goal: Evaluate the vulnerability of technologies and production systems regarding scarce / critical raw materials supply risks, and identify strategies towards (more) sustainable scarce / critical raw materials governance.
    • Examples: Dynamic assessment of raw materials criticality: Linking agent-based demand with material flow supply modelling approaches


  • How to design technologies and production systems (including recycling systems) in view of a more sustainable use of scarce / critical materials?
    • Goal: Identify options for a (more) sustainable use of scarce metals through (re-)design of technologies and production systems (including recycling systems) and demonstrate their fea-sibility with case studies.
    • Examples: Prospecting secondary raw materials in the urban mine and mining waste