Special Issue "Urban Mining for Resource Supply"

A special issue of Resources (ISSN 2079-9276).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Xianlai Zeng
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
Interests: urban mining; resource evaluation; E-waste management; circular economy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Urbanization is regarded the greatest topic of the 21th century. Rapid urbanization and industrialization have caused massive amounts of natural resources to be extracted from the lithosphere to the techosphere. More and more resources are destined to end up as solid waste, called urban mines. With this in mind, ‘urban mining’ is becoming an important approach to achieve the win–win situations of enhanced resource sustainability and improved environmental protection, while developing a strong, circular economy, based on re-using and recycling.

From the global point of view, the potential for urban mining, based on the quantities of resources that have been buried in landfills, and which are hibernating in cities, which, if mined, could dramatically reduce the amounts of virgin materials that have to be removed from the Earth. Therefore, urban mining can help countries reduce the pressure on natural resources and, at the same time, decrease air and water pollution from the effluents of landfills. This will help us to enable a transition towards more sustainable societies and will foster the development of many new extraction and processing industries.

Although the development of urban mining concepts and approaches is important, many challenges must be addressed. The development of urban mining will require innovative technologies, comparable with the methods of extracting and processing virgin ores. Especially, for new waste streams, their compositions are more complex mixtures of materials that are difficult to separate; furthermore, many new products are introduced into the market annually, thus making the engineering, logistical, and marketing challenges more difficult. However, the challenges also mean there are more opportunities. It is anticipated that serious involvement in improving urban mining will result in opportunities to promote resource recovery and a boom to industry.

In this context, I am seeking papers in the area of urban mining for resource supply. I am looking forward to various styles of papers, including review and research articles.

Assoc. Prof. Xianlai Zeng
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Urban mining
  • Resource recycling
  • Circular economy
  • Metals
  • Resource sustainability
  • Resource scarcity
  • Waste management
  • Material flow analysis
  • Life cycle assessment

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Implications of Emerging Vehicle Technologies on Rare Earth Supply and Demand in the United States
Resources 2018, 7(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7010009 - 25 Jan 2018
Cited by 32 | Viewed by 6693
Abstract
We explore the long-term demand and supply potentials of rare earth elements in alternative energy vehicles (AEVs) in the United States until 2050. Using a stock-flow model, we compare a baseline scenario with scenarios that incorporate an exemplary technological innovation: a novel aluminum–cerium–magnesium [...] Read more.
We explore the long-term demand and supply potentials of rare earth elements in alternative energy vehicles (AEVs) in the United States until 2050. Using a stock-flow model, we compare a baseline scenario with scenarios that incorporate an exemplary technological innovation: a novel aluminum–cerium–magnesium alloy. We find that the introduction of the novel alloy demonstrates that even low penetration rates can exceed domestic cerium production capacity, illustrating possible consequences of technological innovations to material supply and demand. End-of-life vehicles can, however, overtake domestic mining as a source of materials, calling for proper technologies and policies to utilize this emerging source. The long-term importing of critical materials in manufactured and semi-manufactured products shifts the location of material stocks and hence future secondary supply of high-value materials, culminating in a double benefit to the importing country. This modeling approach is adaptable to the study of varied scenarios and materials, linking technologies with supply and demand dynamics in order to understand their potential economic and environmental consequences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Mining for Resource Supply)
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Article
Evaluation of Wet Digestion Methods for Quantification of Metal Content in Electronic Scrap Material
Resources 2017, 6(4), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources6040064 - 10 Nov 2017
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 4702
Abstract
Recent advances in the electronics sector and the short life-span of electronic products have triggered an exponential increase in the generation of electronic waste (E-waste). Effective recycling of E-waste has thus become a serious solid waste management challenge. E-waste management technologies include pyrometallurgy, [...] Read more.
Recent advances in the electronics sector and the short life-span of electronic products have triggered an exponential increase in the generation of electronic waste (E-waste). Effective recycling of E-waste has thus become a serious solid waste management challenge. E-waste management technologies include pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, and bioleaching. Determining the metal content of an E-waste sample is critical in evaluating the efficiency of a metal recovery method in E-waste recycling. However, E-waste is complex and of diverse origins. The lack of a standard digestion method for E-waste has resulted in difficulty in comparing the efficiencies of different metal recovery processes. In this study, several solid digestion protocols including American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)-D6357-11, United States Environment Protection Agency Solid Waste (US EPA SW) 846 Method 3050b, ultrasound-assisted, and microwave digestion methods were compared to determine the metal content (Ag, Al, Au, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb, Pd, Sn, and Zn) of electronic scrap materials (ESM) obtained from two different sources. The highest metal recovery (mg/g of ESM) was obtained using ASTM D6357-11 for most of the metals, which remained mainly bound to silicate fractions, while a microwave-assisted digestion protocol (MWD-2) was more effective in solubilizing Al, Pb, and Sn. The study highlights the need for a judicious selection of digestion protocol, and proposes steps for selecting an effective acid digestion method for ESM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Mining for Resource Supply)
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Article
Analyzing Platinum and Palladium Consumption and Demand Forecast in Japan
Resources 2017, 6(4), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources6040061 - 25 Oct 2017
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 4046
Abstract
Platinum and palladium are used in small but essential quantities in a variety of advanced industrial sectors. Platinum and palladium are used as catalysts in various industrial sectors, especially in the car industry. However, their sources are typically concentrated in South Africa and [...] Read more.
Platinum and palladium are used in small but essential quantities in a variety of advanced industrial sectors. Platinum and palladium are used as catalysts in various industrial sectors, especially in the car industry. However, their sources are typically concentrated in South Africa and Russia, and there are concerns about supply security. In terms of resource security, it is important to verify domestic platinum and palladium consumption trends and future demand. In order to understand the domestic platinum and palladium consumption trends in Japan, we tracked the historical platinum and palladium consumption structures from 2001 to 2013, applying a bottom-up approach, and illustrated recent domestic platinum and palladium flow by using a substance flow analysis. The results showed that catalytic converters (9.1–12.8 t) and jewelry (5.3–15.5 t) for platinum, and catalytic converters (14.2–20.0 t) and dental use (9.5–16.4 t) for palladium, have marked the biggest consumption sectors during 2001–2013, where the total consumption of platinum and palladium have fluctuated by 18.4–31.6 t for platinum and from 33.0–46.3 t for palladium. We also forecasted the demand for each end-use of both up to the year 2025 using multiple regression analysis. Our results suggest that platinum demand could decrease from 18.9 t in 2013 to 11.9 t in 2025 and palladium demand could slightly decrease from 33.0 t in 2013 to 13.8 t in 2025. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Mining for Resource Supply)
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Review
The Resource Utilization of Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes [Mart.] Solms) and Its Challenges
Resources 2018, 7(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7030046 - 07 Aug 2018
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4266
Abstract
The unchecked growth of Eichhornia crassipes can cause significant harm, including covering of the water surface, depletion of oxygen, clogging of river channels, and promotion of the breeding of flies and mosquitoes. These effects can significantly impact farmland irrigation, water transportation, and human [...] Read more.
The unchecked growth of Eichhornia crassipes can cause significant harm, including covering of the water surface, depletion of oxygen, clogging of river channels, and promotion of the breeding of flies and mosquitoes. These effects can significantly impact farmland irrigation, water transportation, and human health. However, methods for controlling its growth are not ideal, and control using biological and chemical agents can result in secondary pollution. The utilization of E. crassipes as a resource, for example, as animal feed or organic substrates, can not only turn waste into valuable resources, but it can also solve the problem of its growth, thus bringing about economic and ecological benefits. In this paper, the growth and ecological characteristics of E. crassipes, its nutrient composition, and resource utilization approaches were reviewed. The challenges associated with the large-scale utilization of E. crassipes were also analyzed in order to provide references for the control and resource utilization of the species. Regarding challenges such as the difficulty of cultivation and the high cost of harvesting and dehydrating, it is necessary to investigate the proper water surface and coverage characteristics of E. crassipes cultivation to assure adequate biomass and protect the ecological landscape. It is also necessary to evaluate the effect of E. crassipes cultivation on the health of aquatic ecosystems and the safety of the water environment in order to prevent the significant potential ecological and environmental risks. In addition, developing portable, high-efficiency facilities to promote the effectiveness of harvesting, transportation and dehydration are needed, as well as further improvement in the techniques of utilization and assessment of the economic value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Mining for Resource Supply)
Review
The Potential Phosphorus Crisis: Resource Conservation and Possible Escape Technologies: A Review
Resources 2018, 7(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7020037 - 02 Jun 2018
Cited by 98 | Viewed by 5844
Abstract
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for every organism on the Earth, yet it is also a potential environmental pollutant, which may cause eutrophication of water bodies. Wastewater treatment plants worldwide are struggling to eliminate phosphorus from effluents, at great cost, yet current research [...] Read more.
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for every organism on the Earth, yet it is also a potential environmental pollutant, which may cause eutrophication of water bodies. Wastewater treatment plants worldwide are struggling to eliminate phosphorus from effluents, at great cost, yet current research suggests that the world may deplete the more available phosphorus reserves by around 2300. This, in addition to environmental concerns, evokes the need for new phosphorus recovery techniques to be developed, to meet future generations needs for renewable phosphorus supply. Many studies have been, and are, carried out on phosphorus recovery from wastewater and its sludge, due to their high phosphorus content. Chemical precipitation is the main process for achieving a phosphorus-containing mineral suitable for reuse as a fertilizer, such as struvite. This paper reviews the current status and future trends of phosphorus production and consumption, and summarizes current recovery technologies, discussing their possible integration into wastewater treatment processes, according to a more sustainable water-energy-nutrient nexus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Mining for Resource Supply)
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Review
Properties and Beneficial Uses of (Bio)Chars, with Special Attention to Products from Sewage Sludge Pyrolysis
Resources 2018, 7(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7010020 - 14 Mar 2018
Cited by 45 | Viewed by 3727
Abstract
Residual sludge disposal costs may constitute up to, and sometimes above, 50% of the total cost of operation of a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and contribute approximately 40% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with its operation. Traditionally, wastewater sludges are [...] Read more.
Residual sludge disposal costs may constitute up to, and sometimes above, 50% of the total cost of operation of a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and contribute approximately 40% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with its operation. Traditionally, wastewater sludges are processed for: (a) reduction of total weight and volume to facilitate their transfer and subsequent treatments; (b) stabilization of contained organic material and destruction of pathogenic microorganisms, elimination of noxious odors, and reduction of putrefaction potential and, at an increasing degree; (c) value addition by developing economically viable recovery of energy and residual constituents. Among several other processes, pyrolysis of sludge biomass is being experimented with by some researchers. From the process, oil with composition not dissimilar to that of biodiesels, syngas, and a solid residue can be obtained. While the advantage of obtaining sludge-derived liquid and gaseous fuels is obvious to most, the solid residue from the process, or char (also indicated as biochar by many), may also have several useful, initially unexpected applications. Recently, the char fraction is getting attention from the scientific community due to its potential to improve agricultural soils’ productivity, remediate contaminated soils, and supposed, possible mitigation effects on climate change. This paper first discusses sludge-pyrolysis-derived char production fundamentals (including relationships between char, bio-oil, and syngas fractions in different process operating conditions, general char properties, and possible beneficial uses). Then, based on current authors’ experiments with microwave-assisted sludge pyrolysis aimed at maximization of liquid fuel extraction, evaluate specific produced char characteristics and production to define its properties and most appropriate beneficial use applications in this type of setting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Mining for Resource Supply)
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