WE.3.C || Benefits of Retaining Materials and Their Quality in a Circular Economy – Case studies

Yılmaz, Özge; Uysal, Çınar; Papapetrou, Micheal

Circular Processing of Seawater Brines from Saltworks for Recovery of Valuable Raw Materials (SEArcularMINE) is an H2020 project (869467), which aims to prototype an innovative integrated process for recovering energy and critical raw materials such as magnesium, lithium, rubidium and other trace elements, from waste brines in Mediterranean basin saltworks. The project will target very low energy consumption, alongside generating electricity from salinity gradients of seawater. The circular approach maximizes resource efficiency and economic viability. Projects, such as SEArcularMINE, are vital to move towards Circular Economy and Green Deal vision of the EU. LCA can be a robust tool to enable informed decision-making process with regards to development and market uptake of circular economy business models, which still need validation in terms of environmental benefits delivered as well as potential trade-offs. Project activities will include LCA, which is positioned within the project to provide continuous support for development of sustainable technologies with highest possible added benefits. At the initial phases of the project, preliminary LCA studies will be conducted for separate process steps and will aim to inform the technology developers in terms of environmental hotspots. As the TRL increases during the project, LCA will be applied in an iterative manner with the system boundaries limited to individual technologies of larger SEArcularMINE system. At the later stages of the project, a final LCA study will be carried out for the integrated system to be optimized from environmental footprint point of view based on initial LCA results and hotspots. Such implementation of LCA broadens the applicability of LCA particularly for R&D projects and, coupled with continuous and bi-directional flow of information, can improve communication between technology developers and LCA practitioners to identify hotspots and trade-offs early on during process development.