Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility

Innovation in electrification and lightweight design enabling energy transition

//Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility

Future Mobility is powered by Sustainable Raw Materials

Mobility is the main driver in modern society and an important economic factor in European industrial competitiveness. Today, we are in the middle of a process of disruptive innovation in mobility, which has been triggered by key societal trends as well as technological breakthroughs. The growing demand for reducing CO2 emissions and air pollution in cities by cars has made major automotive OEMs to invest significantly into the electrification of their fleet and to optimize further their cars in term of weight reduction – lightweight design. Similarly, the aviation industry aims to reduce CO2 emissions and noise: electric aviation is considered to be one of the next breakthrough technologies. Electric bikes, boards, and scooters are redefining mobility in the cities today.

These new forms of sustainable mobility are enabled by innovation in Advanced Materials, for instance, in batteries, magnets for e-drives, lightweight materials. They are made of Raw Materials that significantly determine the environmental footprint of the entire product. Emerging energy and mobility technologies create a strong demand for raw materials and advanced materials. For some critical materials this demand will dramatically exceed current production in the next 10 to 15 years. Limited access might negatively impact the mobility transition, thus reducing the competitiveness of European raw materials industry.

Developing competitive value chains for electrification and lightweight design

Autonomous driving has been made possible by advances in communication technology and artificial intelligence (AI). With respect to cars, this is particularly related to vehicle electrification, connectivity and communication, autonomous driving, and the emergence of new business models related to the key theme “Mobility as a Service”. However, the raw materials and advanced materials needed for securing a breakthrough in these fields of innovation are less in the spotlight.  As a matter of fact, raw materials play a crucial role in the making and use of today’s vehicles and they are key enablers for the development of future forms of transportation.

Other key trends include the reduction of production cost, ensuring the recyclability of materials, and increasing the safety of cars “Vision Zero”. These trends reoccur (partially) in other mobility-related industrial sectors, such as aviation, shipbuilding, and machinery. In addition, completely new kinds of mobility devices are introduced on to the market, like e-bikes and e-boards.

The Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility Lighthouse vision is to drive innovation in the making, use, and recycling of Sustainable and Cost-Efficient Materials and Technologies for Future Mobility.

The need and importance for a Lighthouse on Sustainable Materials for Future EU Mobility:

  • The mobility sector is a strong industry with many jobs in Europe.
  • The manufacturing industry in the mobility sector has a long value chain with related strong and diverse raw materials industries.
  • We are entering a mobility revolution with new challenges in terms of technology, social organisation, and business competition.
  • The Lighthouse Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility follows a cross-value chain approach and is an ideal theme to cross-link with other Innovation Communities.
  • There are many EIT RawMaterials partners active in the field.

Key Innovation Trends and related technology and materials challenges for Future Mobility

There are several innovation trends and developments towards the use of novel lightweight materials, electrification, cost reduction, and the extended use of electronics to enhance connectivity and communication. The use of raw materials and the development of new structural and/or functional materials are at the very heart in each of these innovation fields:


Automotive innovation trend

reducing CO2 and pollution emission; the connected car; autonomous driving; mobility as a service; reduce production cost; improve recyclability


Aerospace innovation trend

reducing CO2 emission; reducing noise; electric propulsion; weight reduction; reduce cost


E-bikes, e-boards, e-scooters innovation trend

weight reduction; reduce cost; increase drive range


Mining machinery (heavy machinery and drones) innovation trend

electrification; energy efficiency; use of renewable energies; the connected machine and autonomous driving; efficient operation and minimized unscheduled downtime, smarter equipment and automation, environmental responsibility

Pioneering key innovation trends in E-mobility

EIT RawMaterials Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility Lighthouse will be implemented through the various innovation activities, such as Matchmaking and Networking, Acceleration, and RawMaterials Academy. This includes an annual matchmaking event – Expert Forum Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility, a Lighthouse Booster call, and specific Lighthouse call for innovation projects (KAVA call for up-scaling, education, RIS, and Internationalisation).

Spotlight on key trends:

  • Electrification: batteries, magnets for e-drives, fuel cells
  • Lightweight design: steels, composites, non-ferrous alloys

Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility Lighthouse strategic objectives are:

  • Strengthen the role of EIT RawMaterials in relevant industrial alliances
  • Influence policymaking at European and national levels to raise awareness and to support innovation and policy actions related to raw materials and advanced materials for mobility.
  • Support policymakers in improving regulations (e.g., exploration and extraction permitting, waste directives, battery directives, responsible sourcing) and in sourcing mobility materials from third countries.
  • Minimise risk and leverage large investment funding for (pilot) industrial plants through public and private investors.
  • Develop a data intelligence service to support emerging industry players in mobility value chains.
  • Business creation – facilitation of industrial alliances through events and bilateral meetings, start-up support, a compilation of feasibility studies linked to upscaling projects.

Innovation Actions

  • Sustainable Raw Materials: exploration, mining, extraction of critical and strategic raw materials for the mobility sector; recycling of functional materials and lightweight materials; responsible sourcing; data utilization and improvement of knowledge on sources; collection and recycling of end-of-life products.
  • Efficient Materials Processing: modelling of materials and processes; the processing of functional materials and lightweight materials (steels, non-ferrous alloys, composites); joining technologies; additive manufacturing.
  • Substitution of Critical Materials: advanced materials for batteries, magnets, fuel cells; material-efficient e-drive designs; lightweight materials; coatings; bio-based materials.
  • Recyclability and Circular Design: design for recycling; second life use; new business models.
  • Education: recruitment and training of personnel from across sectors including dedicated teaching modules for MSc and PhD education; LLN and WSL to educate on materials of the mobility transition.
  • Internationalisation: capacity building projects in resource-rich developing countriesrelated to mobility materials.


Read the latest on energy transition and lighthouses

  • 09 July 2020

    EIT RawMaterials SME Call accelerating the commercialisation of innovation to the benefit of European citizens

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  • 08 July 2020

    Policy instruments and incentives for the circular economy

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  • 24 April 2020

    Successful launch of the EIT RawMaterials Lighthouse on Sustainable Discovery and Supply

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Upcoming events on energy transition and lighthouses

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    Holistic Decision Making with P5 Impact Analyses 2

    P5 stands for People, Planet, Profit, Process and Product. The P5 Impact Analysis is a tool that can be utilized to assess and/or compare options for various project components, to facilitate making sustainability-informed decisions and re...

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    Gothenburg, Sweden

    BizMet project at the Circular Materials Conference

    The Circular Materials Conference has been postponed due to the circumstances of the coronavirus COVID-19. A new date has been scheduled for the 22nd and 23rd of September, 2020 at the same venue in Gothenburg.

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    Akademiestraße 6 Freiberg, Germany

    Course: An Introduction to Automated Mineralogy / Automated Materials Characterization 1

    “Automated Materials Characterization” / “Automated Mineralogy” is an analytical technique based on scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image analysis coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). Programme