Advanced Materials

Decarbonization Avenue : Advanced Materials

Many materials that we use contribute to CO2 emissions, either because they need significant energy for their production, because they have a fossil origin, because they are too heavy, or they perform their task poorly - all these resulting in more energy needed and more emissions to do the same job. Innovations in the materials sector that reduce carbon footprint of production, decrease weight, or increase performance and lifetime, can significantly impact decarbonization efforts.

Developments in the advanced materials fied have been ongoing for a few decades now, and the increased focus on decarbonization and sustainability will further accelerate innovations in this sector. Decarbonization targeted efforts in the materials field are likely to be in nanotechnology, composite materials, and use of lighter materials such as Aluminium in the place of steel. Bio-based materials including bioplastics is another area where significant developments can be expected in this context.

For the 2020-2030 period, innovations in this sector can be expected around carbon nanofibers, bio-based advanced polymers and other materials, battery materials, advanced technologies to use low-carbon plant sources such as hemp, and advanced chemical materials & ingredients.

Decarbonization potential

Decarbonization through advanced materials has significant potential, and is one of the relatively less explored pathways.

Lightweighting many of the sectors - specifically transport - alone could bring about significant CO2 emissions reduction. For instance, select alloys or composites could provide reduction of upto 60% by weight compared to steel, a big boon for automotive weights and emissions. To provide yet another decarbonization estimate for lightweighting, using lightweight components and high-efficiency engines in one quarter of the aviation fleet will translate to fuel savings and savings of 45 million tons of CO2 emissions for the US alone.

Let’s look at a different end use of advanced materials - glass windows. A scenario analysis by Glass for Europe found that use of high performance glazing for windows had the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by about 100 million tons by 2030 in Europe alone.

Applications of advanced materials go far beyond the above instances, and in many of these applications, such advanced materials can have an important role to play in CO2 emissions reductions.

Industries impacted

  • Aerospace & defense
  • Automobiles & auto components
  • Chemicals & petrochemicals
  • Construction & real estate
  • Electrical
  • Electronics & semiconductors
  • Logistics
  • Marine transport
  • Mining & metals
  • Oil & gas
  • Packaging & plastics
  • Textile & apparel
  • Waste management

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Themes & Topics

  • Use in specific decarbonization avenues

    • Renewable Energy

    • Energy Efficiency

    • Energy Storage

    • Agriculture & Food

    • Waste Management

    • Materials

    • Water

    • Mobility

    • Carbon capture & use

  • End uses

    • Buildings

    • Apparel & accessories

    • Sustainable heating

    • Heating & cooling

    • Heat & power storage

    • Energy efficiency

    • Automobiles & road transport

    • Aviation

    • Shipping & maritime

    • Renewable energy

    • Corrosion protection

    • Insulation

    • Pollution control

    • Distribution infrastructure





  • Types of materials

    • Metals

    • Concrete

    • Plastic

    • Wood/biomass

    • Textiles/fiber

    • Ceramics

    • Glass

    • Composites

  • Technologies & principles

    • Molecular design, modelling

    • Biotechnology

    • Nanotech

    • Additive manufacturing

    • Light-weight and high-strength materials

      • Composites

  • Key benefits

    • Lower weight

    • Better performance

    • Safety

    • Durability & long life










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