UK launches total tech metal recycling
40 partners, companies and schools to partake in initiative Metal Tech News – Nov. 18, 2020
Last updated 7/10/2022 at 2:55pm
The Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Center in Technology Metals, one of five new centers recently announced by the United Kingdom government, aims to revolutionize how technology crucial to clean energy and digital technologies are used and recycled in the country.
Funded as part of a 22.5 million pound government investment, the idea is to explore how to create a circular economy for technology metals such as cobalt, rare earths and lithium that are essential to technologies such as electric vehicles and wind turbines.
Frances Wall, a professor from the University of Exeter, is leading this project that includes 40 partner companies and organizations. This group boasts names like the universities of Birmingham, Manchester, and Leicester; British Geological Survey; and Camborne School of Mines.
"This opportunity is really exciting because we bring together all the disciplines ranging from geology, chemistry, engineering to social science and business to consider the whole system," said Wall.
For its part, Exeter will bring expertise from its environment and sustainability institute, renewable energy department, and business school to the technology metals consortium.
"Together with our project partners we will make a new road map for a technology metals circular economy centered on the UK," Wall added.
The research will start with a case study of the industrial ecosystem in Cornwall, England, an area rich in lithium, tin, and tungsten. A source of past, current, and future technology metals, Cornwall is an ideal region of the UK to lead in a system of circular economy for those metals.
The five new research and innovation interdisciplinary circular economy centers across the UK will be dedicated to pioneering how to reuse the waste materials in the textiles, construction, chemical and metals industries to improve environmental conditions and boost the UK economy.
"By bringing together a wide range of academic disciplines with industry partners, the centers will catalyze innovative new technologies and approaches that will boost the UK economy and benefit the environment," said Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Executive Chair Dame Lynn Gladden. "The move to a circular economy, where we use less resources and reuse more materials, is central to the UK's green industrial revolution and our commitment to achieving a net zero economy by 2050."
These centers will focus on generating the environmental, social, and economic understanding required to support a successful transition to a circular economy, which will help ensure this effort strengthens the UK economy while improving resource use along the entire materials cycle.
"Creating a more circular economy for our waste and resources lies at the heart of this government's transformative agenda for the environment, and we are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse and recycle more of our resources," said UK Environment Minister Rebecca Pow. "These new research centers will play a vital part in creating a cleaner and more sustainable waste sector, thus helping us to better protect the environment and leave it in better shape for the next generation."
In addition to investments by the UK government, 11.2 million pounds of funding and in-kind support is being provided by external partners, including the Royal College of Art, University College London, Loughborough University, University of Exeter, and Brunel University London.