EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Metallurgical infrastructure and technology criticality: the link between photovoltaics, sustainability, and the metals industry

Neill Bartie (), Lucero Cobos-Becerra, Magnus Fröhling, Rutger Schlatmann and Markus Reuter
Additional contact information
Neill Bartie: Technische Universität Braunschweig
Lucero Cobos-Becerra: Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
Magnus Fröhling: Technical University of Munich
Rutger Schlatmann: Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
Markus Reuter: SMS-Group

Mineral Economics, 2022, vol. 35, issue 3, No 12, 503-519

Abstract: Abstract Various high-purity metals endow renewable energy technologies with specific functionalities. These become heavily intertwined in products, complicating end-of-life treatment. To counteract downcycling and resource depletion, maximising both quantities and qualities of materials recovered during production and recycling processes should be prioritised in the pursuit of sustainable circular economy. To do this well requires metallurgical infrastructure systems that maximise resource efficiency.To illustrate the concept, digital twins of two photovoltaic (PV) module technologies were created using process simulation. The models comprise integrated metallurgical systems that produce, among others, cadmium, tellurium, zinc, copper, and silicon, all of which are required for PV modules. System-wide resource efficiency, environmental impacts, and technoeconomic performance were assessed using exergy analysis, life cycle assessment, and cost models, respectively. High-detail simulation of complete life cycles allows for the system-wide effects of various production, recycling, and residue exchange scenarios to be evaluated to maximise overall sustainability and simplify the distribution of impacts in multiple-output production systems. This paper expands on previous studies and demonstrates the key importance of metallurgy in achieving Circular Economy, not only by means of reactors, but via systems and complete supply chains—not only the criticality of elements, but also the criticality of available metallurgical processing and other infrastructure in the supply chain should be addressed. The important role of energy grid compositions, and the resulting location-based variations in supply chain footprints, in maximising energy output per unit of embodied carbon footprint for complete systems is highlighted.

Keywords: Circular economy; Sustainability; Process simulation; CdTe and Silicon photovoltaics; Life cycle assessment (LCA); Technoeconomics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s13563-022-00313-7 Abstract (text/html)
Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:spr:minecn:v:35:y:2022:i:3:d:10.1007_s13563-022-00313-7

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/13563

DOI: 10.1007/s13563-022-00313-7

Access Statistics for this article

Mineral Economics is currently edited by Magnus Ericsson and Patrik Söderholm

More articles in Mineral Economics from Springer, Raw Materials Group (RMG), Luleå University of Technology
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla () and Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing ().

 
Page updated 2022-11-27
Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:35:y:2022:i:3:d:10.1007_s13563-022-00313-7