Aalto University's Assistant Professors Rodrigo Serna and Mari Lundström and their research groups are amongst the researchers moving into the new laboratory. Mari Lundström is in charge of the BATCircle consortium, which promotes the circular economy of battery metals. Four universities, two research institutes and 23 companies are involved in the consortium. The storage of renewable energy and the electrification of transport will increase the need for battery metals, and the consortium's aim is to create a battery market of up to five billion euros in Finland.
‘The new facilities are ideal for studying the circular economy of metals: the laboratory allows for the study and development of almost all unit processes from recycled electronic waste and the enrichment of minerals to high-purity metal products. Close and long-term cooperation with companies in the sector supports both research and industrial activities in the circular economy of metals,’ says Lundström.
‘Consumers are increasingly interested in the origin of materials and the responsibility of primary production. The traceability of minerals is an example of an area that we promote with the help of research equipment purchased with funding from the Academy of Finland. The increase in the use of batteries needed by the energy revolution has resulted in, for example, a very high demand for lithium. There is no significant previously produced reserve of lithium that could be used in recycling. For this reason, it is essential to ensure that the sustainability of primary production remains an integral part of the sustainably growing circular economy,’ Vuori states.
From VTT research groups of research area managers Tarja Laitinen and Tuulamari Helaja will move to the premises of the joint laboratory. The teams focus on developing solutions promoting the circular economy of the industrial sector. Important themes in the circular economy project include sustainable recovery processes, utilisation of industrial side streams in products with high added value and digital material development. VTT has, for example, developed coatings that insulate electricity from the leftover sand discharged at the mines, also known as tailings, which is even more resistant to wear than coatings made from similar primary raw materials.
‘The Circular Raw Material Hub brings together research actors in the value chain of mineral-based raw materials to envision solutions for the needs of a carbon-neutral and resource-efficient society. When companies find genuine business opportunities in the circular economy, the world will rapidly undergo major changes,’ says Tarja Laitinen.
‘A total of 5 million euros has been invested in the new joint infrastructure, 70 per cent of which is FIRI funding provided by the Academy of Finland. The plan is that significant investments will also be made in the future,’ says Professor Jari Koskinen from Aalto University.
Professor, Head of Department Jari Koskinen
+358 50 5956 677
Geological Survey of Finland
Director, Scientific Research Saku Vuori
+ 358 400 249 085
Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT
Vice President, Lifecycle solutions, Tarja Laitinen
+358 40 8222 905