Material Flow Analysis and Environmental Impact Assessment Related to Current and Future Use of PGM in Europe

Examensarbete för masterexamen

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Bibliographical item details
Type: Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master Thesis
Title: Material Flow Analysis and Environmental Impact Assessment Related to Current and Future Use of PGM in Europe
Authors: Saurat, Mathieu
Abstract: Platinum group metals (PGM) are essential components in a number of industrial processes and end-products of high technology, including catalytic converters fitted on cars to reduce atmospheric emissions. However, the production of these precious metals is associated with heavy environmental impacts, such as mineral waste and sulphur dioxide emissions. The present study develops a model of the use of PGM in Europe in eight industrial sectors for the period 1990-2030, coupled with an analysis of the environmental impacts of the primary and secondary production of PGM in South Africa, Russia, North America and Europe. The material flow analysis tends to show that sulphur dioxide emissions are the prime environmental concern regarding the primary production of PGM. In this respect, secondary production emits 30 to 180 less SO2 per ton PGM produced, depending on the way the emissions are allocated. Modelling results also show that increased recyling rates for autocatalysts and electronic products could lead to 30% less SO2 emissions. Up to date technologies at the Russian PGM production facilities alone could reduce the SO2 emissions associated with the use of PGM in Europe by 50%. The autocatalyst product group represents 60% of the demand for primary PGM in Europe, therefore the evolution of consumption patterns and the development of new technologies in the car industry have a major influence on the environmental impacts associated with PGM used in Europe. The potential future introduction of fuel cell vehicles containing platinum could take place at a large scale without jeopardizing world reserves, only under the condition of important technological improvements to reduce the amount of platinum needed per kW. Finally, the present work stresses the importance of promoting the recovery and recycling of the PGM used on the European territory, in order to save primary resources, reduce environmental impacts related to PGM production and avoid the shifting of environmental burden to other parts of the world.
Keywords: Energi;Materialvetenskap;Hållbar utveckling;Miljöteknik;Energy;Materials Science;Sustainable Development;Environmental engineering
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: Chalmers tekniska högskola / Institutionen för energi och miljö
Chalmers University of Technology / Department of Energy and Environment
Collection:Examensarbeten för masterexamen // Master Theses

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