Criticality of the Geological Zinc, Tin, and Lead Family

17 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2015

See all articles by Ermelinda M. Harper

Ermelinda M. Harper

Yale University - School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Goksin Kavlak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Lara Burmeister

Yale University - School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Matthew J. Eckelman

Northeastern University - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Serkan Erbis

Northeastern University - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Thomas E. Graedel

Yale University - School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Date Written: August 2015

Abstract

Concerns about the future availability and continuity of metal supplies have triggered research efforts to define and assess metal criticality. In this study, we apply a comprehensive methodology to the elements of the geological zinc, tin, and lead family: zinc (Zn); germanium (Ge); cadmium (Cd); indium (In); tin (Sn); and lead (Pb). Zn, Sn, and Pb have played important roles in various technological sectors for centuries, whereas Ge, Cd, and In are by‐product metals that are increasingly utilized in emerging and strategic technologies. Criticality assessments are made on national (i.e., the United States) and global levels for 2008. The results are presented with uncertainty estimates in three‐dimensional “criticality space,” comprised of supply risk (SR), environmental implications, and vulnerability to supply restriction (VSR) axes. SR is the highest for In for both the medium (i.e., five to ten years) and long term (i.e., a few decades). Pb and Zn have the lowest SR for the medium term and Pb the lowest SR for the long term. In and Ge production have the highest environmental burdens, mainly as a result of emissions from Zn smelting and subsequent metals purification and recovery from Zn leaching residues. VSR is highest for Pb at the global and national levels.

Keywords: cadmium, emerging energy technologies, germanium, indium, industrial ecology, metal sustainability

Suggested Citation

Harper, Ermelinda M. and Kavlak, Goksin and Burmeister, Lara and Eckelman, Matthew J. and Erbis, Serkan and Graedel, Thomas E., Criticality of the Geological Zinc, Tin, and Lead Family (August 2015). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 19, Issue 4, pp. 628-644, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2663736 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12213

Ermelinda M. Harper (Contact Author)

Yale University - School of Forestry & Environmental Studies ( email )

New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Goksin Kavlak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Lara Burmeister

Yale University - School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Matthew J. Eckelman

Northeastern University - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering ( email )

360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Serkan Erbis

Northeastern University - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Thomas E. Graedel

Yale University - School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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