A review of critical materials studies
7th Europe-Korea Conference (EKC), Vienna,July 23-25
The significant shrinking of China’s rare earth export quota showed the importance of certain materials to several industries or even to the economy, defense and politics of a country. This fact pushed some authorities to create some organizations and studies on critical materials. The forecast of critical materials can help the decision makers to take measures in advance and avoid potential problems. Furthermore, the review of previous critical materials studies provide have a global view of this research area, as well as to provide useful recommendations or guidelines for future studies in this area. For now, there is no yet a comprehensive diagnostic of criticality. In general, the “critical raw materials” face high economic importance and are of high access risks. The purpose for this study is to show what types of works have already been conducted on critical materials; to extract the current definition and impact factors of criticality; to extract the existing basic concepts and methodologies determine the “critical materials”; and to point out the current critical material research interests in terms of material categories, industrial area and regions, as well as their results and recommendations. Most studies are focused on finding out the critical materials in one specific administrative region, such as, the European Union, the United States, etc. and on offering recommendations. Some works are focused on certain technologies, for example, the clean energy technologies, low-carbon technologies or emerging technologies. With different scopes and methodologies, the materials defined critical are different too. However, the similar point is that the existing studies are all focused on minerals or non-fuel raw materials, in which, the rare earth elements are determined “critical” the most frequently. Some studies analyzed the criticality of certain materials families. There are also relevant studies about the materials availability of certain products and about strategic or critical materials on stockpile requirement. Therefore the studies on “critical materials” are still at the first stage, more comprehensive methodologies should be conducted and more sectors or regions need “critical materials” studies.