To tackle its (critical) raw material dependency, Europe needs comprehensive strategies based on sustainable primary mining, substitution and recycling. Freshly produced flows and stocks of landfilled industrial residues such as mine tailings, non-ferrous slag and bauxite residue (BR) can provide major amounts of critical metals and, concurrently, minerals for low-carbon building materials. The European Training Network for Zero-Waste Valorisation of Bauxite Residue (REDMUD) therefore targets the vast streams of new and stockpiled BR in the EU-28. BR contains several critical metals, is associated with a substantial management cost, whereas spills have led to major environmental incidents, including the Ajka disaster in Hungary. To date, zero-waste valorisation of BR is not occurring yet. The creation of a zero-waste BR valorisation industry in Europe urgently requires skilled scientists and engineers, who can tackle the barriers to develop fully closed-loop environmentally-friendly recovery flow sheets. REDMUD trains 15 researchers in the S/T of bauxite residue valorisation, with emphasis on the recovery of Fe, Al, Ti and rare earths (incl. Sc) while valorising the residuals into building materials. An intersectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration of EU-leading institutes and scientists has been established, which covers the full value chain, from BR to recovered metals and new building materials. Research challenges include the development of efficient extraction of Fe, Al, Ti and rare earths (incl. Sc) from distinct (NORM classified) BRs and the preparation of new building materials with higher than usual Fe content. By training the researchers in pyro-, hydro- and ionometallurgy, electrolysis, rare-earth extraction and separation technology, inorganic polymer and cement chemistry, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), NORM aspects and characterisation, they become the much needed scientists and engineers for the growing European critical raw materials industry.
RARE3 KU Leuven Industrial Research Fund Knowledge Platform on Rare Earth Recycling is focused on breakthrough recycling processes based on non-aqueous technology for the two main applications of rare earths: permanent magnets and lamp phosphors, which represent >70% of the rare earths market by value. By recycling the REEs from phosphors and magnets one specifically targets the five most critical rare earths: Nd, Eu, Tb, Dy and Y. This work is part of a more general objective to create fully integrated, closed-loop recycling flow sheets for rare-earth magnets and phosphors. Concurrently, a consequential life cycle analysis (LCA) has to be carried out for the recycling of rare earths in magnets and lamp phosphors.
The IRF-KP RARE3 consortium merges four essential components that are relevant for a successful KP:
– Scientific strength: The scientific coordinator is a world-leading expert in REE chemistry. Furthermore, the other (engineering) promoters have an excellent track record in the domains of pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy and electrochemistry, which will be used and developed as tools for REE recycling.
– Interdisciplinarity. Chemists, chemical engineers, metallurgists, materials scientists will be working together with economists and LCA experts to tackle the problem of rare-earth recycling.
– Tech transfer strength: The consortium consists of 2 experienced IRF Officers with a proven track record.
– Keen industrial interest: 27 companies grouped into a User Committee.
A versatile programme that addresses both academic expertise and personal skills.
A research-based training at the heart of the doctoral course.
Training activities such as seminars, workshops, summer schools and other course components.
Supervising teams of highly skilled and engaged professors, experts in their fields.
An extensive international network, including several Marie Curie Initial Training Networks and Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Programmes.
Supported by 14 departments at KU Leuven, number 35 in the Times Higher Education World University Ranking (THE).
For more information: http://www.shapetheworld.eu/