Raw Materials

Substitution of Critical and Toxic Materials in Products and for Optimized Performance

Welcome to the “Substitution of Critical and Toxic Materials in Products and for Optimized Performance” thematic category within the GAEA (Green Alternatives for European Autonomy) Open Innovation Program!

This Innovation Area focuses on pioneering new frontiers in material science, aiming to transform how industries utilize critical and toxic materials.

In an era of heightened environmental awareness and stringent sustainability goals, the drive to reduce dependence on critical and toxic materials is more pressing than ever. These materials, often essential for various industrial applications, pose significant environmental and health risks, and their scarcity raises concerns about long-term supply security. This thematic category addresses these challenges head-on, seeking innovative approaches to substitute or minimize the use of such materials in key industries.

The goal is not merely substitution but doing so without compromising, and potentially enhancing, the performance of products. This requires a multifaceted approach, combining cutting-edge research, innovative design, and advanced manufacturing techniques. The solutions sought in this area are expected to resonate across various sectors, from electronics and energy to transportation and construction, reflecting the widespread application and impact of these materials.

This pursuit is not just about mitigating risks; it represents an opportunity to redefine product efficiency and functionality. Innovations in this area promise to unlock new potentials in product design and performance, paving the way for next-generation technologies that are safer, more sustainable, and more effective.

Embracing this challenge means exploring uncharted territories in material science, engaging in collaborative research, and driving technological advancements. Through this thematic category, GAEA aspires to catalyze a paradigm shift in the use of critical and toxic materials, fostering a future where industrial progress and environmental stewardship go hand in hand.

This Innovation Area is addressed to:

  • Individuals from Business, Finance, Marketing, Technology, and Engineering academic sectors studying or recently completed their studies (up to four years) in any European University
  • Researchers and/or Ph.D. students in any relevant to the Innovation Areas science fields from any European University

who have or want to develop an innovative idea for the Substitution of Critical and Toxic Materials in Products and Optimized Performance.

  • Developing High-Performance Alternatives: Innovate to create new materials that not only replace critical and toxic substances but also enhance the performance and longevity of products in various industries like electronics, energy, and transportation.
  • Advancing Sustainable Material Science: Challenge the boundaries of material science to discover sustainable, non-toxic alternatives that meet or exceed the functionalities of current critical materials.
  • Ensuring Supply Chain Sustainability: Address the challenge of sourcing new materials sustainably, focusing on reducing environmental impact and ensuring long-term availability without relying on scarce or hazardous resources.
  • Integrating New Materials in Manufacturing: Innovate in the field of manufacturing processes to seamlessly incorporate new, safer materials without escalating costs or compromising product quality.
  • Balancing Innovation with Regulatory Compliance: Develop new materials and substitution strategies while navigating the complex landscape of environmental, health, and safety regulations, ensuring that innovations are both groundbreaking and compliant.
  • Biodegradable Material Development for Energy Systems: Innovating in the creation of biodegradable or compostable materials to replace toxic materials specifically designed for use in renewable energy systems, such as solar panel components or battery casings. These materials would need to be durable and functional, withstanding environmental conditions while being environmentally friendly.
  • Biodegradable Materials for Solar Panel Insulation: Developing biodegradable materials specifically designed for insulation in solar panels, combining environmental friendliness with necessary thermal and electrical insulation properties.
  • Compostable Wiring Insulation: Innovating in creating compostable materials to replace PVC and other toxic materials in electrical wiring insulation, focusing on safety and durability.
  • Nanotechnology Applications: Exploring the use of nanotechnology to develop new materials with enhanced properties, such as increased strength or conductivity, to substitute for critical materials in electronics and other high-tech applications.
  • Nanotechnology for High-Density Energy Storage: Utilizing nanotechnology to develop new materials that can store more energy, offering an alternative to critical materials in battery and capacitor applications.
  • Nano-enhanced Photovoltaic Materials: Developing nanotechnology-based materials that enhance the efficiency and longevity of solar cells, potentially replacing rare earth elements in photovoltaic applications.
  • Advanced Composite Materials: Researching and developing composite materials that combine natural fibers with non-toxic resins, offering a sustainable alternative for construction, automotive, and aerospace applications without sacrificing performance.
  • Green Materials in Aerospace Applications: Innovating with advanced composites that combine non-toxic resins with high-strength fibers for use in aerospace, reducing reliance on traditional, toxic aerospace materials.
  • Eco-Friendly Electronic Components: Innovating in electronic circuit design using materials with lower environmental impact, focusing on maintaining or improving energy efficiency and device longevity.
  • Recyclable Composite Materials for Construction: Creating composite materials for the construction industry that are fully recyclable at the end of their life, reducing waste and promoting circular economy principles.
  • Sustainable Alloy Development: Creating new alloys from abundant and less harmful elements for use in various industries, ensuring they meet the specific strength, flexibility, or conductivity requirements traditionally fulfilled by critical or toxic materials.
  • Bio-based Alloys for Industrial Applications: Innovating in the creation of bio-based alloys, which use organic materials to achieve desired properties for industrial applications, offering an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional alloys.

Categories of submission


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