Copper circular economy: Challenges of the energy and digital transition

Jorge Torrubia, Alicia Valero


Copper is one of the key metals for the digital and energy transition, which will increase demand in the coming years. On the other hand, primary extraction poses increasing environmental problems due to the progressive decline in the mineral concentration of deposits (ore grade). In this context, electronic waste is becoming a very promising source of secondary copper. However, this form of copper recovery presents a number of technological and chemical challenges, including the use of renewable energy, the separation of plastics from waste and increasing process efficiency. Given the thermodynamic limitations of these processes, other non-technological aspects are very important in the transition.


energy transition; circular economy; recycling; secondary resources; copper



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