Sustainable Materials

Innovation in electrification and lightweight design enabling energy transition

//Sustainable Materials

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 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 the Sustainable Materials Lighthouse:

  • 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 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, 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 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


Upcoming events on energy transition and lighthouses

  • ,

    Women and Girls in STEM Forum 2022

    Empowering Girls in Science and Technology #WGSF22 – Second Edition On 26 October 2022, Girls Go Circular – in collaboration with the European Commission, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) – i...

  • -
    Mannerheimintie 10 Helsinki, Finland

    Innovation Hub North and Baltic Sea Stakeholder Days

    For the first time, EIT RawMaterials Innovation Hubs North and Baltic Sea are gathering all stakeholders in the two innovation hubs for joint Stakeholder Days. This is a unique opportunity for all stakeholders in the EIT RawMaterials com...

calendar (1) Created with Sketch. Combined Shape clock Created with Sketch. location Created with Sketch. calendar (1) Created with Sketch. Combined Shape clock Created with Sketch. location Created with Sketch. calendar (1) Created with Sketch. Combined Shape clock Created with Sketch. location Created with Sketch.
icon arrow-lefticon arrow-righticon calendaricon checkmarkicon chevron-downicon chevron-lefticon chevron-righticon chevron-upicon contracticon copyicon downloadicon editicon emailicon exiticon expandicon eyeicon facebookicon fileicon forwardicon homeicon infoicon instagramicon linkicon linkedinicon locationicon minusicon phoneicon plusicon questionicon refreshicon reseticon searchicon sendicon settingsicon shareicon staricon timeicon time+placeicon trashicon twittericon uploadicon user-2icon usericon warning