START – “Sustainable energy harvesting systems based on innovative mine waste recycling”
CO2nstruct – “Modelling the role of circular economy construction value chains for a carbon-neutral Europe”
START – “Sustainable energy harvesting systems based on innovative mine waste recycling”, is coordinated by LNEG and composed by a consortium of 15 partners from 11 European countries (Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Poland). The START project was approved within the scope of the Cluster 4: Digital, Industry and Space, call HORIZON-CL4-2021-RESILIENCE-01-07, will have a duration of 48 months and an eligible funding of €7,667,878.00, of which about 14% is allocated to LNEG.
The shift from a fuel-intensive to a material-intensive energy system implies an increased need of minerals. The critical minerals enabling this energy transition are geographically concentrated outside Europe when considering both extraction and processing operations. This growing demand for essential minerals and the declining quality of ores is leading to a substantial increase in waste volumes from mining operations. Employing mining residues as valuable secondary raw materials for advanced energy transition devices creates an increased economic incentive to eliminate environmentally hazardous tailings. Against this backdrop, and in line European Green Deal objectives, START main objective is to create a sustainable supply chain, and a corresponding business-innovation ecosystem, for tellurium-free thermoelectric harvesting devices based on secondary raw materials responsibly sourced in the EU. This will be achieved by collecting waste sulphides of the tetrahedrite series from deactivated mine dumps/tailing and current mining waste flows within EU to produce optimized p-type thermoelements for common thermoelectric generators able to harvest waste heat and promote sustainability. This concept represents a major opportunity to increase resource productivity and to decrease resource dependence and waste in line with the Circular Economy Action Plan.
Main results expected:
- Innovative value chain: START project proposes disruptive technologies for direct use of minerals in thermoelectric renewable energy ecosystems, based on a “waste material-waste heat to power” methodology. This will enable a completely new value chain linking secure European mineral resources and energy production.
- New market opportunity for European mineral resources: by converting discarded waste secondary sulphide materials largely available in Europe into useful and valuable mineral resource.
- Boost EU competitiveness on raw materials: recycling will contribute to the security of supply of raw materials and will help to improve the sustainability of materials in the EU economy. Recycling will also be a key element for improving sustainability, as secondary materials have typically lower environmental impacts when compared with primary raw materials.
- Renewable energy ecosystems: START will enable the transition to a greener society and economy through eco-innovation, more sustainable economic models and by promoting energy security.
- New commercial ecosystem: START will create a new rapid growth commercial ecosystem that will attract new stakeholders exploiting market opportunities for replication and market development.
CO2nstruct “Modelling the role of circular economy construction value chains for a carbon-neutral Europe” where LNEG participates within a consortium of other six partners and led by DTU Technical University Denmark.
The project will integrate circular economy practices into the TIMES energy system GHG mitigation model for the whole of Europe. It is focused on six carbon-intensive and pervasive construction materials (cement, steel, wood, brick and insulation materials), with a particular focus on 2 clusters: offshore wind and buildings. It will model the use of natural resources for decarbonization using a circular economy approach.
The main objectives of the project include answering the following questions: How much can CE measures impact GHG abatement and energy costs? Which are the value chain hotspots for CE that should be prioritized? Can CE lower the environmental impact of climate mitigation (inside and outside EU+)? Can circular climate mitigation abate health damage of non-GHG emissions to air and water? What are the necessary modifications in materials/techniques/value-chains that can be leveraged to achieve carbon neutrality?
Main results expected:
- Delineation of a “circular climate mitigation” framework to augment TIMES models at a first stage, but that can serve as an imprint for other climate mitigation models.
- Identification of circular economy measures in the key industries of the six materials’ value chains.
- Mapping six value chains with explicit feedback loops and quantified rebound effects, key of circular economy practices.
- Assessment of social and environmental externalities of mitigation and of circular economy practices, including GHG & air pollutants emissions, water usage, embodied energy, energy poverty, employment, and inequalities.
- Coupling of circular economy tools, as life-cycle analysis and material flow analysis, with the TIMES model.
- Quantification of the role of CE for EU+ climate mitigation in the near-term and future, always ensuring carbon neutrality.
- Useful and effective policy support information for sustainable climate mitigation, minimizing conflicts across SDGs (both in EU+ and rest of the world).