3.03 Earth-abundant materials

Michele Dondi
Marzo 2023
Maggio 2025
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
  • Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna
  • Università degli Studi di Brescia
3.03 Earth-abundant materials

This project relates to Tasks 3.3.1 “Future raw materials: upgrade of earth-abundant and secondary minerals” and 3.4.3 “Design of sustainable value chains for Made-in-Italy sectors” of the Made in Italy Circolare e Sostenibile (MICS) Extended Partnership project.
Key elements of the project
In large-volume industrial production, it is needed to drastically improve resource efficiency and to reduce the carbon footprint through green processes and new formulations, whilst optimizing the use of raw and secondary materials. The challenge is to valorise industrial minerals, low-cost metals, mineral waste, natural and industrial residues of various origins, which are difficult to reuse The goal is to transform them into new products for various applications, aimed at improving the Made-in-Italy supply chains (ceramics, textiles, cosmetics, transport, safety, etc.).
Expected outcomes
Valorisation of industrial minerals, waste and by-products of various origins (natural and synthetic) and composition (ceramic, organic, natural and synthetic fibers) through sustainable processes and eco-design of products and functional materials (ceramics, geopolymers, composites, coatings). Implementation of resource efficiency in the design of materials and processes.
Work Plan
The project will be broken down into the following complementary activities, each with identified leading Partner:

  1. Waste valorisation in ceramic and building materials (leader UniBs)
    Lab-scale technological feasibility of industrial waste recycling (foundry sands, mining residues, …) in high-throughput productions. Industrial solid waste usually comprises steel slag, tailings, fly ash, red mud, waste tire, rubber, and special wastes generated by industries, in addition to wastes from light and heavy manufacturing, fabrication, construction sites, power plants, and chemical plants. These wastes may contain heavy metals and other hazardous substances. If discarded or landfilled, they could have an impact on the environment while they can be transformed to replace land resources. This activity will be undertaken to gain an understanding of:
  • available small-scale waste management technology options that are suitable for use to manage waste,
  • the viability of the considered technology in the specific geographical settings.
    The investigation will focus on identifying proven, practical, and affordable technologies suitable for the range of local conditions and factors.
    The aim of the investigation is to identify technologies and providers that can offer solutions to support behaviours and activities to reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, and dispose (as the last resort).
  1. Towards a sustainable ceramic tile value chain (leader CNR)
    Supply chain of Made-in-Italy design products: sustainability assessment of raw materials flows and search for domestic mineral resources for ceramic tiles (catalogue and atlas of Italian deposits).

Lab-scale technological feasibility (TRL4) of industrial waste and CDW recycling in geopolymer-based components and ceramic tiles.
Methodology to assess the sustainability of the ceramic tile supply chain and experimental application of resource efficient batches (TRL4).
Search for domestic mineral resources for ceramics: Catalogue and Atlas of Italian deposits (TRL3).
Assessment of circular economy solutions for industrial wastes (TRL 2).
Other results will fall within TRL 1 and TRL4.
Project progress will be regularly monitored by reporting measurable indicators every 8 months.