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Antonio Valero and Alicia Valero (2019)

Thermodynamic Rarity and Recyclability of Raw Materials in the Energy Transition: The Need for an In-Spiral Economy

Entropy, 21:873.

This paper presents a thermodynamic vision of the depletion of mineral resources. It demonstrates how raw materials can be better assessed using exergy, based on thermodynamic rarity, which considers scarcity in the crust and energy requirements for extracting and refining minerals. An exergy analysis of the energy transition reveals that, to approach a decarbonized economy by 2050, mineral exergy must be greater than that of fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and even all renewables. This is because clean technologies require huge amounts of many different raw materials. The rapid exhaustion of mines necessitates an increase in recycling and reuse, that is, a “circular economy”. As seen in the automobile industry, society is far removed from closing even the first cycle, and absolute circularity does not exist. The Second Law dictates that, in each cycle, some quantity and quality of materials is unavoidably lost (there are no circles, but spirals). For a rigorous recyclability analysis, we elaborate the exergy indicators to be used in the assessment of the true circularity of recycling processes. We aim to strive toward an advanced economy focused on separating techniques and promoting circularity audits, an economy that inspires new solutions: an in-spiral economy.

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The Material Limits of Energy Transition: Thanatia

Antonio Valero Capilla, Alicia Valero Delgado and Guiomar Calvo

This book provides a holistic view of raw mineral depletion in the context of renewable energy transistion.

The material limits Thanatia


Thanatia. Los límites minerales del planeta

mites minerales del planeta

 Antonio Valero Capilla and Alicia Valero Delgado interviewed by Adrián Almazán

We need a material transition, not only energetic, that restores nature and effectively reuses materials. Gaia must be cared for by extending life on Earth and slowing its degradation towards Thanatia.

Thanatia los limites


Thermodynamics for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

Cover Thermodynamics

Wojciech Stanek (Editor)

This book examines ways of assessing the rational management of nonrenewable resources. Integrating numerous methods, it systematically exposes the strengths of exergy analysis in resources management.

Thanatia: The Destiny of the Earth's Mineral Resources

Cover Thanatia

A Thermodynamic Cradle-to-Cradle Assessment by (author): Antonio Valero Capilla and Alicia Valero Delgado

Is Gaia becoming Thanatia, a resource exhausted planet? For how long can our high-tech society be sustained in the light of declining mineral ore grades, heavy dependence on un-recycled critical metals and accelerated material dispersion? These are all root causes of future disruptions that need to be addressed today.