Raw Materials for Future Technologies 2021

Fraunhofer IZM is actively involved in the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) study "Raw Materials for Emerging Technologies lll", commissioned by the German Mineral Resources Agency (DERA). The project explores the likely trajectory of emergent technologies coming into industrial use to understand the use cases and the resulting demand for raw materials. It also tries to offer new insights concerning possible recycling, matters of resource efficiency, and possible substitutions for each technology to get some pointers about how demand will be shifting in the future.

Three different socioeconomic scenarios were examined to estimate and compare the demand for raw materials for future technologies, as well as to identify which innovations are particularly dependent on these raw materials.

In total, 33 technologies are presented in the study. Fraunhofer IZM investigated 8 of them:

  • Data center
  • 5G
  • photonic components
  • Radiofrequency microchips
  • Tantalum capacitors
  • Thin–film photovoltaics
  • ITO in display technologies
  • Lithium-ion high-performance electricity storage

Depending on the scenarios, the analysis shows that the demand for future technologies in 2040 could be significantly higher than today's production levels for a total of eleven metals. This applies, for example, to lithium, scandium, platinum, ruthenium, rare earth elements (REE) and iridium.

Predicting the future is always difficult and fraught with great uncertainty. Nevertheless, these studies are enormously important for recognizing trends in raw materials at an early stage. In this way, we can act to avoid bottlenecks in the supply situation - whether by developing other technologies or by expanding our supply routes.

For more information, you can download the full study here.


Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung ISI