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Gabrielle Gaustad1 Michele Bustamante2 Alexandra Leader3 Elsa Olivetti2

1, School of Engineering, Alfred University, Alfred, New York, United States
2, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, New York, United States
3, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, United States

Critical and strategic materials are characterized by their importance in key applications and their vulnerability to supply chain disruptions. Much current research focuses on identifying and quantifying metrics and indicators that can predict potential supply chain risks for these materials. Sourcing also plays an important role in the environmental impacts of these materials as well. The complexity of both environmental impact and criticality metrics creates challenges to their integration in traditional material selection tools. This work examines the potential for synthesis of these tools in several case study material systems from the clean energy, defense, and electronics industries. This research work uses a functional unit framework borrowed from life-cycle assessment methodologies to quantify metrics for substitution that can better capture functionality trade-offs. It also uses techno-economic analysis to identify material systems where disruptive adoption could cause criticality induced price volatility. Results indicate this approach has several advantages over current qualitative and semi-quantitative indicators and may be better equipped to inform firm-level research and development activities.

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