At this mid-way point for Met4Tech, we held our Annual Meeting (29-30 November 2022) at the British Geological Survey (BGS) headquarters in Keyworth, Nottingham.
Informative discussions and presentations across the two days of meetings helped inform our next steps for Met4Tech project.
Day 1 – Research Group Updates
On the first day in Keyworth, we interacted as the full research group digesting detailed updates across all four Thematic Areas, namely: (1) Stocks and Flows and Tech metals Data Observatory; (2) CE Principles for exploration and new Geo-models; (3) Design for Recycling, Manufacture, and Recovery; and (4) Agent-based modelling and CE Roadmap for technology metals.
This was followed by a workshop training session for our Early Career Researchers (ECRs) on Regulatory considerations and the ‘Theory of Change’ concept. The mapping activity on Theory of Change (ToC) relates to the shared ambition and goal of applying Responsible Innovation (RI) to consider potential unintended consequences of research activities and communication of key outcomes and recommendations. The Regulatory considerations to be incorporated into the ultimate roadmap will also have consequences, that the ECRs were asked to contemplate in their workshop.
Day 2 – Met4Tech Collaborations & Network Showcase
The second day in Keyworth was our Met4Tech Collaborations & Network Showcase, which featured invited speakers from industrial partners and collaborators from aligned projects. After a series of quick updates from the research team, a cohort of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) supported by the UKRI Innovation funding in 2021 described their recent studies and revealed how the additional assistance from Met4Tech team had helped them with circular tech metals aims.
Beta Technology Ltd.’s study on Circular Niobium is enabling a more in-depth understanding of the niobium cycle. This has looked at niobium importation to the UK from Brazil; through its life in products such as steel, magnets for MRI, and batteries; into legislation for scrap, recycling and how improvements in these areas can positively influence environmental impacts and secure supply for emerging UK capabilities.
Ecomar Propulsion described their investigation of circularity in marine propulsion systems. They have undertaken a full assessment of recycled and recyclable materials in current outboard and inboard motors. The company is now reviewing the possible presence of deleterious substances in motors and batteries and looking for supply chain influence opportunities and how these components will be recycled at the end of their useful life.
Minviro is adding circularity to life cycle assessment (LCA) accounting through its Mine Loop project. The LCA model development that Minviro were able to carry out has generated improved processes for life cycle assessments in the raw materials space.
Twist described their Digital tracking study which is a state-of-the-art ratings platform for better performing hardware as a service (HaaS) businesses. Testing began with initial interviews to uncover needs and expectation for how data can present insights on the platform followed by prototyping. Follow up interviews about the prototype enabled agility and improvements.
We also heard about new roadmaps from our partner APC and the CENTs Network associates:
Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) have progressed industry knowledge of technology trends and roadmaps for the automotive industry. The impact of bigger batteries versus new chemical technologies for automotive batteries and therefore the demand of raw materials in this sector have yielded important information on potential pathways in mitigating shortages.
Circular Economy Network+ in Transportation Systems (CENTS) are an important ally of Met4Tech. By building a focused community and delivering novel solutions CENTs are co-creating a circular economy (CE) strategy for transport. A detailed infographic was presented both virtually and in the form of a poster to summarise this improved understanding for transport roadmaps.
The final session was the Met4Tech Technology Metals Ideas Forum. The participants rotated through several Breakout Groups where discussions brought different backgrounds and perspectives together to propagate ideas around four chosen research topics, namely: Circular value chains for REEs magnets, The Cornwall United Nations Resource Management System (UNRMS) case example, Agent based modelling of lithium-ion batteries value chain, and the LCA modelling of a newly developed consumer products database.
We would like to thank all our speakers and meeting participants for their enthusiasm and helpful feedback.
Very special thanks to the BGS Met4Tech team who hosted around 50 guests over the two days.