Critical Materials Data Module

Watch on-demand the web seminar on 'Critical materials and conflict minerals—responding to the business risk

What is it? A reference source that enables you to identify and understand supply risk for the materials used in your organization based on factors such as geopolitical risk, physical scarcity, conflict mineral risk, and price volatility.
What is in it? Supply risk data for 65 key elements, for example, including rare earths. Elements are linked to the materials in which they can be found, enabling you to identify at-risk materials.
What is it used for? Performing data-driven risk assessment of materials supply risks and taking mitigating action. For example, you can choose to avoid use of critical materials in design, find substitute materials, ensure stocks of key materials, and meet the reporting requirements of legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Act.
Where does it come from? The data is maintained by Granta Design and was compiled as part of the Samulet industry-academic project led by Rolls-Royce with supporting funding from the UK Technology Strategy Board and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
How can I access it? Within GRANTA MI as a stand-alone data module. You will also need the related MaterialUniverse data module in order to explore the links between elemental supply risk and engineering materials.

Read the press release 

Description

The Dodd-Frank Act

One example of the importance of Critical Materials issues is the Dodd-Frank Act in the USA. Section 1502 requires manufacturers to publicly disclose whether their procurement of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold may be helping to fund conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo or surrounding regions. The Critical Materials Data Module can help you to identify which of your materials may contain the relevant conflict materials.

The Critical Materials Data Module is a reference source that links elemental supply risk information to materials by composition. This means that materials engineers and product sustainability experts in manufacturing organizations can begin to perform a data-driven risk assessment for materials supply risks, and take early mitigating action to ensure business continuity and reduce long term costs of production.

The Data Module contains:

  • Supply-risk data and rating for 65 key elements based on factors such as geopolitical risk, physical scarcity, conflict mineral risk and historical price volatility
  • Links from elements to materials in Granta's MaterialUniverse data module based on composition—these enable you to quickly identify which engineering materials contain at-risk elements.
  • Price volatility and price variation data at both the element and material level to help assess the potential material cost impact of future price fluctuations
  • Conflict minerals indicator to support the conflict mineral reporting and disclosure requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act (see sidebar, right)
  • An elemental supply risk rating methodology developed through industry-led research to ensure a practical, action-focused approach  

The elemental data can be accessed, browsed, and searched through the easy-to-use web browser interface of the GRANTA MI system (below).

The GRANTA MI web browser interface allows you to browse the contents of the Critical Materials Data Module (left) or search those contents. Individual element datasheets provide data relating to supply risk (right).

The GRANTA MI web browser interface allows you to browse the contents of the Critical Materials Data Module (left) or search those contents. Individual element datasheets provide data relating to supply risk (right).

Links between the elemental data and data about materials such as metal alloys within the MaterialUniverse data module allow you to explore the impact of materials supply risk. For example, on a metal alloy datasheet within MaterialUniverse you will find a table such as the one shown below, which summarizes this risk—you can click on the hyperlinked element names to open their Critical Materials datasheets.

Table within a MaterialUniverse datasheet for a Magnesium alloy—when the Critical Materials Data Module is installed, these tables appear, enabling you to explore the impact of supply risk on your engineering materials.

Table within a MaterialUniverse datasheet for a Magnesium alloy—when the Critical Materials Data Module is installed, these tables appear, enabling you to explore the impact of supply risk on your engineering materials.

Why is materials supply risk important?

Many engineering materials, for example, advanced alloy systems used in aerospace and defense, make use of exotic elements to produce a unique set of material attributes that offer significant performance benefits. These elements are often a very small part of the composition of the material, but are crucial to the performance of that material.

In recent years we have witnessed temporary, but dramatic, supply disruptions of, for example, rare earth elements. This has raised questions for engineering organisations about the security of their supply of ‘critical materials’—those that contain rare earths and other elements and that may be subject to supply disruptions or significant price increases. The causes of supply disruptions are complex, involving factors such as: political action and instability; concerns over ‘conflict minerals’; production monopolies; difficulty of extraction; and environmental concerns.

With on-going political instability in many mineral-producing regions of the world and increasing competition for resources, the likelihood of a supply disruption for critical materials is now greater than ever.

The impacts of a supply disruption for today’s modern, lean engineering organisation can be significant and may include:

  • Inability to manufacture products
  • Production cost increases
  • Production lead time increases
  • Difficulty in providing replacement parts for in-service maintenance.

These problems are compounded by the difficulty of material substitution in applications such as aerospace and defence where identifying, qualifying and certifying a material can take years and involve considerable cost.

How does the Critical Materials Data Module help?

"The Critical Materials Data Module can form a key part of your organization's strategy for managing the business risks associated with critical materials."

The first step in mitigating business risks associated with critical materials is understanding which elements present the highest risk and where those elements are being used within your organisation or supply chain. The Critical Materials Data Module provides the data you need to begin this type of assessment.

With a better picture of the sources and scale of the risk, you can begin to take early mitigating actions, well in advance of future supply disruptions. Avoid the use of critical materials in future designs, launch a material substitution research project, or ensure supplies of key elements. Such proactivity will minimise the risk of supply disruption and the cost of developing a secure source of supply.

The Critical Materials Data Module can form a key part of your organization's strategy for managing the business risks associated with critical materials. This will enable you to answer questions from investors and stakeholders that may have concerns about your exposure to critical materials risks or ability to comply with conflict minerals reporting obligations such as the Dodd-Frank Act.