European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results
CORDIS

Thinking rough towards sustainability

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - e.THROUGH (Thinking rough towards sustainability)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2022-12-31

To tackle its critical raw material (CRM) dependency, Europe needs comprehensive strategies based on sustainable primary mining, recovery from secondary resources and recycling. The EC classified 30 CRMs due to their high economic importance and high risk of supply interruption. e.THROUGH has the ambitious vision of turning the challenge of CRMs dependence into a strategic strength for Europe, contributing towards declassifying some CRMs, such as tungsten, indium, gallium and chromium, by: 1) Promoting new trends in the characterization and exploration of mineral deposits; 2) Mapping CRMs between EU mining regions; 3) Gaining knowledge on innovative processes for recovery secondary CRMs; 4) Redesign construction materials using secondary materials, closing loops, strongly supporting waste minimization; 5) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for the evaluation of global environmental impacts; 6) Transferring newly generated knowledge to stakeholders, for shaping responsible behaviours. e.THROUGH is an intersectoral and interdisciplinary consortium of EU & Third Country partners of leading institutions that see waste as a resource to recover CRMs, influencing the whole value chain. By training human resources in CRMs´ value chain, their recovery, recycling, further reuse and LCA, they become the much-needed young and senior scientists and engineers for the growing EU CRM industry. Two high-level objectives were defined for the e.THROUGH project to help improve: i) Availability of qualified and skilled workforce leading to higher competitiveness of the EU CRM industry, and ii) Transparency and communication by looking at multidisciplinary oriented research on mining development.
These two overall objectives were totally achieved. Nine Theses (four Master's and five PhD´s) were completed within the project duration, qualifying workforce, as well as broad multidisciplinary consortia were formed for oriented research on mining and remining development, successfully applying for funding to continue researching with impact in society.
• e.THROUGH website: https://ethrough.wordpress.com/ or http://sites.fct.unl.pt/e_through that redirects to the previous one
• Twitter: @eTHROUGHproject
During the first 12 months of the project (M1-M12), 30.15 secondments were carried out vs. the 43 planned, representing a 70.12% execution.
During the reporting period (M1-M24), 77.51 secondments were carried out vs. the 88 planned, representing an 88.08% execution.
During the whole project (M1-M60), 145.47 secondments were carried out vs. the 163 initially planned, representing an 89.25% execution (93.12% execution if not counting the secondments not financed by EC). These secondments succeeded in training human resources in CRMs´ value chain, in primary mining, their recovery, recycling, further reuse and LCA. Like this, 16 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) and 19 Experienced Researchers (ER) became the needed young and senior scientists and engineers for the growing EU CRM industry. These 35 secondees,16 male and 19 female, went on secondment, being interesting to remark that although males are in majority as ER, just the opposite occurs for ESR.
The project has 6 work packages (WP) entitled:
WP1 - Management, Coordination and Promotion
WP2 - Modelling mineral deposits and tailings disposal volumes, and their economic potential assets
for mining and re-mining
WP3 - Advanced CRM recovery and further reuse of residues in construction materials
WP4 - Developing talent
WP5 - Transferring knowledge to stakeholders to make transitions happen
WP6 - Ethical aspects
Most of the secondments were carried out within the WP2 and WP3, the research activity ones. The generated scientific knowledge obtained by e.THROUGH contributed to a win-win situation both for the environment and the economy, promoting the required transition towards a sustainable society. e.THROUGH achieved the following publications and other dissemination and communication activities: 35 Peer-reviewed international journals (IJ); 39 participations in International conferences (IC); 9 Thesis/Dissertation (T); 2 Patents (P); 2 Organisation of a Conference (OC); 10 Organisation of a Workshop (OW); 1 Press release (PR); 5 Exhibition (E); 2 Flyer (F); 9 Training (T); 1 Social Media (SM); 1 Website (W); 3 Communication Campaign (e.g. Radio, TV) (CC); 24 Participation to a Conference (PC); 7 Participation to a Workshop (PW); 17 Participation to an Event other than a Conference or a Workshop (PE); 2 Video/Film (V); 5 Brokerage Event (BE); 1 Pitch Event (P); 1 Participation in activities organized jointly with other EU project(s) (PA). 2 Other (O).
The referred dissemination and communication activities are estimated to have reached the following number of persons: 2500 in the Scientific Community (Higher Education, Research); 15 in the Industry; 25 in the Civil Society; 35 General Public; 6 Policy Makers; 1500 in the Media and 8 Other.
e.THROUGH really progressed beyond the state of the art as, for instance:
1) Publication Nº 2 (http://hdl.handle.net/10362/49019] overviewed the sustainability of construction materials: The electrodialytic technology as a tool for mortar production (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2018.10.010 IJ20);
2) Publication Nº 6 (https://arxiv.org/abs/2002.05965) explored hydrogen production for self-energy generation in electro remediation: A proof of concept (doi: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113839 IJ17);
3) Publication Nº 13 (http://hdl.handle.net/10362/90875) coupled for the first time the electrodialytic process and deep eutectic solvents (DES), the so-called solvents of the 21st century, proposing a new basic idea to recover tungsten and removing arsenic from Panasqueira mine residues (secondary sources) (doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.136364 IJ14);
4) Publication Nº 31 (https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/7/3915) presents a Life Cycle Assessment of electrodialytic technologies to recover raw materials from mine tailings (doi: 10.3390/su13073915 IJ27);
5) Publication Nº 22 (http://hdl.handle.net/10362/104138) studies the electrodialytic recovery of rare earth elements from coal ashes for the 1st time (doi: 10.1016/j.electacta.2020.136934 IJ22).
Also, e.THROUGH project reached wider societal implications, for instance with Publication Nº 47, which presents a review that combines a complete overview of the lithium supply state-of-art, with an environmental assessment of several scenarios where primary production is integrated with urban mining strategies. Starting from real information, the evaluation proved the possible substitution of about 30% of primary lithium, with a consequent reduction of the environmental impact (>10%). The results represent an important supporting tool for the improvement of the lithium recycling value chain. The combination of the carbon footprint assessment and the Monte Carlo methodology suggested the lowest impact of decentralized facilities for the greatest waste quantities, especially with the high contribution of rechargeable batteries (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959652621011732?via%3Dihub, IJ34).
e.THROUGH poster