The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in collaboration with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) have presented their latest advancements towards the integration of the value chains for electromobility into the MESSAGEix-Materials-Transport module. The work has been presented at the 11 th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) in the special session named “Bringing Industrial Ecology and the circular economy into integrated assesment models”.

In light of the transition to electromobility, the demand for Li-ion batteries and their key battery raw materials are expected to increase significantly in the coming years, and current mining and refining rates of battery raw materials, such as Li and Co, are not enough to satisfy the likely future demand stemming from the battery industry. With our work we aim at mapping the value chains of Nickel, Cobalt, Copper, Lithium and Graphite, from their mining phases until they reach the battery manufacturing facility, where they are combined into Li-ion battery technologies commonly used in electric vehicles. In addition, the emission factors calculated via LCAs provide the carbon footprints of the various processes and their inputs, allowing to analyse the emissions embodied in the raw materials and ultimately in the Li-ion batteries.

Integrating this data in an optimization model covering the nexus between energy, economy and environment allows the understanding of the conditions concerning materials availability, costs, production capacity that are required under emissions mitigation scenarios. With such implementation we aim at understanding potential bottlenecks along the complex supply chains of Li-ion batteries that may arise with current consumption and production patterns. Then, we plan on developing several circular economy scenarios where key modelling approaches of the CircEUlar project will be investigated. Namely, we plan on developing scenarios with increased use of shared mobility and high recycling rates for key battery raw materials.

By Lorenzo Usai – NTNU