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Copper availability from the recycling of electric vehicles in Europe, North America and China: A model based estimation until 2050

: Soulier, Marcel; Goldmann, Daniel


Peuker, Urs A. (Ed.):
E-Mobility and Circular Economy : International Workshop E-Mobility and Circular Economy 2018, Freiberg, Germany
Zurich: TTP, 2019 (Materials Science Forum 959)
ISBN: 978-3-0357-1280-3 (Print)
ISBN: 978-3-0357-3280-1
ISBN: 978-3-0357-2280-2
International Workshop E-Mobility and Circular Economy <2018, Freiberg>
Fraunhofer ISI ()
anthropogenic stocks; copper; electric vehicle; secondary material; substance flow analysis

The expected increase in electric mobility is accompanied by an additional demand for copper, which is needed for the electric drivetrain consisting of the electric motor and auxiliary components. Key of the presented work is a simulation model to assess the implications of this additional copper demand on stocks and scrap flows of copper in the EU28, North America and China until the year 2050. The calculation results indicate that in the mid 2030s the copper used for electric vehicles starts having a considerable influence on both stocks and scrap flows. With 3 million tonnes of additional copper scrap in 2050, scrap from electric vehicles accounts for ~17% of China's total copper scrap. In absolute terms, this scrap flow is five times higher than the corresponding flows in Europe and North America. Therefore, China seems to be particularly promising as a location for recyclers and (secondary) copper smelters to expand their businesses.