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Joris Baars

Reducing life cycle emissions and reliance on critical materials.

  • Reducing life cycle emissions and reliance on critical materials
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Project title

Prospective sustainability assessments to support technology decisions


Project description

Over the coming decades, we must adhere to international agreements on climate change to avoid the risks of global warming. Low carbon innovations and new technologies will play a role to stimulate a green transition. They are central to global sustainable development pathways.

But low carbon technologies depend on natural resources. This results in a possibility that the burden of emissions will be shifted to concerns around the availability of certain metals. These impacts remain largely absent from current technology scenario assessments.

We are developing a model framework to assess the implications of a low carbon technological transition on natural resources. We will evaluate the best technological options. Our framework models different prospective supply chain scenarios. It combines:

  • life cycle assessment
  • material flow analysis
  • linear programming

Such assessments will allow us to reduce life cycle emissions and reliance on critical materials. They can inform decision makers and engineers on optimal technological options and strategies.

The study uses the transition to electric vehicles as a case to test the model framework. The electromobility transition has significant material implications. Battery production results in high emissions.

Our project partners are the ReLiB project (Reuse and Recycling of Lithium ion batteries). They have developed novel battery recycling technologies. We compare these with primary production. This will help u s to understand if a closed loop recycling system for EV batteries could reduce future production emissions. It may also help to reduce the reliance on primary production.


  • MSc Sustainable Resources: Economics, Policies and Transitions, University College London