Environmentally-Extended Multi-Regional Input-Output Analysis of neodymium, cobalt and lithium used in electric vehicles

Paper ID: 
Life cycle analysis (lca)
Published under CEST2023
Proceedings ISBN:
Proceedings ISSN: 2944-9820
Martínez-Hernando M., Bolonio D., (Corresponding) García-Martínez M., Ortega M., Llamas J.
In the transportation sector, the market share of world electric vehicle sales has changed from 0.0% in 2010 to 3.2% (2.1 million) by 2020, and according to forecasts, sales in 2030 may rise to close to 30%. This drastic change is encouraged by environmental goals set to reduce CO2 emissions, not emitted by electric vehicles (EVs) during the use phase. However, clean technologies (such as electric cars) can cause other effects in mining, processing metals, and the manufacture of permanent magnets or batteries. In addition, the use of electric cars can increase the dependence on countries that control the mining and/or production of materials like neodymium, lithium or cobalt. This work performs an Environmentally-Extended Multi-Regional Input-Output Analysis (EEMRIO) to quantify the flow of neodymium, lithium and cobalt (through a Material Flow Analysis) and assess the CO2 equivalent emissions (through a life cycle assessment) of these materials, needed to manufacture the permanent magnets and batteries of electric vehicles. This method is useful to analyze the origin (countries) where the environmental impact is produced, in contrast to conventional methodologies that only calculate global impacts. Different scenarios, based on the environmental objectives of the European Union and China, were considered. China shows a key role in mining, processing and manufacture of permanent magnets and batteries, with 60.8% of mining and 79% of manufacturing respectively. Due to Chinese domain, China is the country with highest emissions of CO2-eq, a 73.11% of total emissions. Obtained results are useful to assess which environmental proposals are more effective to reduce the environmental impact of EVs and to assess the dependency of these rare earths.
electric vehicles, critical raw materials, life cycle