Metals and Materials Research for Our Sustainability—50 Years from the Limits to Growth and 50 Years Future Perspectives

A special issue of Metals (ISSN 2075-4701). This special issue belongs to the section "Extractive Metallurgy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2023) | Viewed by 2801

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to provide a good forum for scientists and engineers to share and discuss their historical reviews, pioneering original findings, and future perspectives on the topics that stretch beyond our limitations. Reports on metals and/or materials towards our sustainable development and the circular economy are particularly welcome.

In 1972, the Club of Rome published The Limits to Growth [1], which reported their global system modeling and predicted that our growth will reach its limit by 2030 due to food shortages, a lack of non-renewable resources, and environmental pollution, assuming the same population and economy growth that was present in the 1960s. Based on this ground-breaking report, significant numbers of global initiatives have been developed, including sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, which were adopted in 2015.

The recycling of metals/materials can be a potential solution addressing many SDGs, including “12—Reposnsible consumption and production" via extended producer responsibility and relevant recycling system/technology developments. For example, selective material recovery is particularly challenging but important in metal/material recycling. It can be significantly advanced via the synergistic combination of material characterization, selective liberation, and selective separation [2,3]. Such a synergistic approach is particularly welcome, but any ground-breaking findings, insightful reviews, and future perspectives on metals and/or materials research in terms of sustainability are greatly appreciated.


  1. Meadows, D.H.; et al. The Limits to Growth. 1972, Universe Books, New York, NY, USA.
  2. Otsuki, A.; Chen, Y.; Zhao, Y. Characterisation and beneficiation of complex ores for sustainable use of mineral resources: Refractory gold ore beneficiation as an Int. J. Soc. Mat. Eng. Res. 2014, 20, 126–135.
  3. Otsuki, A.; Mensbruge, L.D.L.; King, A.; Serranti, S.; Fiore, L.; Bonifazi, G. Nondestructive characterization of mechanically processed waste printed circuit boards-particle liberation analysis. Waste Management 2020, 102, 510.

Dr. Akira Otsuki
Guest Editor

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  • sustainability
  • circular economy
  • complexity and functionality
  • resources
  • synergy
  • recycling

Published Papers (1 paper)

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12 pages, 2567 KiB  
Flexible Ion Adsorption Electrodes Using Natural Zeolite and Rice Husk Charcoal for FEM-EK Treatment
by Ayaka Kumagai, Mahmudul Kabir, Shogo Okuda, Hitori Komachi, Naoko Obara, Yusuke Sato, Takahiro Saito, Michio Sato, Masahiro Tomioka, Seiji Kumagai and Noboru Yoshimura
Metals 2023, 13(2), 320; - 4 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1282
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident happened after the devastating earthquake in the Pacific coastal area of Japan on 11 March 2011. After the accident, radioactive materials spread out over a wide area in Japan. Radioactive materials were retained on soil surfaces, [...] Read more.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident happened after the devastating earthquake in the Pacific coastal area of Japan on 11 March 2011. After the accident, radioactive materials spread out over a wide area in Japan. Radioactive materials were retained on soil surfaces, causing environmental problems. Among the radioactive materials, cesium (137Cs) has a long half-life of 30.2 years, and it remains near the surface soil; therefore, it is necessary to remove soil contaminated by 137Cs. The contaminated soil layer of inhabited areas in Fukushima was already removed before April 2020. However, the remediation method of Cs with other radioactive materials needs further study, as the large quantity of contaminated soil is not easy to preserve. Electrokinetic (EK) treatment is one of the soil remediation technologies that utilizes EK phenomena at the interface between contaminated soils by transferring ions from the soil. We have developed a new type of EK method in which a cathode is placed on the surface of the soil and an anode is place inside the soil. By applying DC voltage in between the electrodes, the Cs ions can be removed from the contaminated soil. The removed Cs ions are gathered near to the cathode, and if the cathode can adsorb the Cs ions, then only the cathode needs to be preserved, solving the problem of storing a large amount of soil. We have been working to prepare a new type of cathode that can be effective in adsorbing Cs ions and at the same time easier to store and handle. We used natural zeolite and rice husk charcoal (kuntan) to prepare this electrode, which showed good potential for adsorbing Cs ions. The electrode showed flexibility, which is helpful for storing it in the same way as pasture rolls. However, the experiments were conducted in the laboratory with non-radioactive Cs; field experiments and observations are needed for practical applications of this method, as well as the new electrodes. Full article
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