Session 6

Exploring competing demand for critical materials and its impact on identification and mitigation of materials criticality
Yulia Lapko1,2
1Politecnico di Milano, Italy; 2KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Materials criticality is a complex and multidisciplinary phenomenon, which has been examined via plethora of factors. However, competing demand for critical materials and interdependence between their applications have not been neither included in existing assessment methodologies, nor explicitly examined so far. Only a few studies have brought attention to its importance (Graedel et al. 2012; Bell et al. 2013). This study aims to investigate the presence of cross-application competition for critical materials between different companies employing the same materials for manufacturing different products as a way to analyze the influence of competing demand on how manufacturing companies view and mitigate materials criticality. This study examines competitive behavior of component manufacturers in automotive and wind turbine sectors in the period of REE crisis (2009-2011). The data has been collected primarily from secondary sources such as publicly available reports of the companies. The obtained results indicate the importance of cross-application interdependence and competition in identification and mitigation of materials criticality, and provide implications for further development of criticality assessment methodology. Indeed, the complexity of competition should be taken into consideration along with its interplay with other factors of materials criticality (e.g. substitutability, concentration in producing countries etc.). The results of the study, although limited to the examined empirical context, offer original insights on company’s response strategies to mitigate materials criticality in presence of competing demand.