The objective is to identify the most crucial applications of CRMs in defence, with particular attention to the analysis of the present circularity level. Next steps are devoted to the generation of project ideas focusing on suitable advanced processes, able to build an EU-endogenous supply chain for the concerned CRMs, profiting possibly of the Raw Materials Alliance, launched by the European Commission.

This includes the optimisation of the present manufacturing processes, underpinning the generation of circularity by-design, and the replacement of CRMs with circular materials available in EU. This is the last option, because it implies the generation of totally new supply chains, with relevant impact on the needed budget and time.

Some CRMs are also REACH-regulated. This implies that, after the sunset fixed by ECHA, they are supposed to be banned from use and their replacement is necessary. In this case, the entanglement of EU policies of CRMs and REACH should foster a coordinated research policy leading to roadmaps for the creation of new supply chains for new circular materials replacing REACH-regulated materials.

Project ideas

Valorisation of Titanium via Additive Manufacturing:

Leveraging additive manufacturing, this project aims to validate and demonstrate, in military environment, the production of armour components using titanium feedstock derived from scrap. This will enhance military applications but also open avenues for broader usage in other sectors, showcasing the potential for repurposing waste materials into valuable resources.

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Mining Critical Raw Materials from end-of-life military devices:

Embracing a circular economy approach, this project seeks to unlock the latent value in military electronic waste. By recovering CRMs from end-of-life military devices, including printed circuit boards (PCBs) and complex electronic assemblies, this project idea addresses technological challenges in recycling but also logistics and information management intricacies related to handling sensitive military devices. 

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CRM Substitution in Coatings:

Responding to environmental and regulatory concerns, this project targets the substitution of hard chrome/chromates coatings in military applications. The objective is to establish a robust testing methodology for CRM-free coatings, offering corrosion and wear protection while ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. 

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The themes embedded within this Project Circle have been developed within the concerned EDA working bodies, such as the Materials Capability Technology Group (CapTech).

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