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Resources 2014, 3(1), 291-318; doi:10.3390/resources3010291
Article

Recycling Potentials of Critical Metals-Analyzing Secondary Flows from Selected Applications

1,2,*  and 1,2
Received: 4 January 2014; in revised form: 17 February 2014 / Accepted: 24 February 2014 / Published: 14 March 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wealth from Waste: Urban Metal Resources and Industrial Ecology)
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Abstract: Metal mobilization in general, as well as the number of metals used in products to increase performance and provide sometimes unique functionalities, has increased steadily in the past decades. Materials, such as indium, gallium, platinum group metals (PGM), and rare earths (RE), are used ever more frequently in high-tech applications and their criticality as a function of economic importance and supply risks has been highlighted in various studies. Nevertheless, recycling rates are often below one percent. Against this background, secondary flows of critical metals from three different end-of-life products up to 2020 are modeled and losses along the products’ end-of-life (EOL) chain are identified. Two established applications of PGM and RE–industrial catalysts and thermal barrier coatings–and CIGS photovoltaic cells as a relatively new product have been analyzed. In addition to a quantification of future EOL flows, the analysis showed that a relatively well working recycling system exists for PGM-bearing catalysts, while a complete loss of critical metals occurs for the other applications. The reasons include a lack of economic incentives, technologically caused material dissipation and other technological challenges.
Keywords: critical metals; recycling; secondary material flows; material flow analysis; industrial catalysts; CIGS photovoltaic cells; thermal barrier coatings (TBC); industrial ecology critical metals; recycling; secondary material flows; material flow analysis; industrial catalysts; CIGS photovoltaic cells; thermal barrier coatings (TBC); industrial ecology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zimmermann, T.; Gößling-Reisemann, S. Recycling Potentials of Critical Metals-Analyzing Secondary Flows from Selected Applications. Resources 2014, 3, 291-318.

AMA Style

Zimmermann T, Gößling-Reisemann S. Recycling Potentials of Critical Metals-Analyzing Secondary Flows from Selected Applications. Resources. 2014; 3(1):291-318.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zimmermann, Till; Gößling-Reisemann, Stefan. 2014. "Recycling Potentials of Critical Metals-Analyzing Secondary Flows from Selected Applications." Resources 3, no. 1: 291-318.


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