Network strives to find scarce material solutions

Posted on 16 Apr 2013 by The Manufacturer

A network has been launched to address Europe’s dependence on ‘critical raw materials’ - economically important materials with unreliable supply chains.

The network, set up by the European Commission (EC) and announced yesterday in Brussels, will bring together manufacturers, engineers, scientists, academics, industry bodies and policy makers to identify and develop substitutes for 14 materials in total.

The materials, which include magnesium and graphite, are important to the construction, automotive, aerospace, chemicals, and machinery industries, which fear adverse economic impacts if Europe does not increase supply or reduce demand.

The EC set up the FP7 project, CRM_InnoNet, to explore this issue and identify solutions, with the project is coordinated by the Chemistry Innovation Knowledge Transfer Network.

The CRM_InnoNet project will identify substitution challenges and opportunities through a series of workshops and an online portal.

A set of policy recommendations will then be developed and presented to the EC in October, with a view to setting future policy.

Catherine Joce, Project Coordinator at Chemistry Innovation, believes the issue of critical raw materials affects a very diverse community.

“The Innovation Network will provide an identity and focus for researchers and businesses with an interest in substitution, drawing together a community which contains representatives from different disciplines and sectors together with a focus on substitution for the first time,” she said.

“Creating a network to bring these people together in a constructive environment will play a vital part in shaping the research and innovation environment to enable future development of substitutes to help address the problem of materials scarcity.”