Solvometallurgy: an emerging branch of extractive metallurgy


December 13, 2019

2:00 PM


Auditoires Sainte-Barbe BARB91

In this seminar, Prof. Dr. Koen BINNEMANS will give us an overview of the development of solvometallurgy, with emphasis on recent work done at the SOLVOMET group of KU Leuven.

Solvometallurgy is the extraction of metals from ores, tailings, industrial process residues, production scrap and urban waste using non-aqueous solutions. Solvometallurgy differs from hydrometallurgy by the absence of a discrete water phase. The solvents are either organic or inorganic solvents (excluding water). Sustainable solvometallurgical processes must be based on green solvents. Therefore, toxic or environmentally harmful solvents must be avoided. Most of the unit processes in solvometallurgy are very similar to those in hydrometallurgy, with the main difference being that the water is replaced by a non-aqueous solvent.

Solvometallurgy is complementary to pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. However, this new approach offers several advantages. Firstly, the consumption of water is very limited offering a major advantage in regions where there is a shortage of water. Secondly, the leaching and solvent extraction can be combined in a single step, which leads to simplified process flow sheets. Thirdly, solvent leaching can be more selective than leaching with acidic aqueous solutions, leading to reduced acid consumption and less purification steps. Fourthly, solvometallurgy is useful for the treatment of ores that are rich in soluble silica (such as eudialyte) as no silica gel is formed. Hence, solvometallurgy is in a position to help develop near-zero-waste metallurgical processes, and with levels of energy consumption that are much less than with high-temperature processes.

In this seminar, an overview of the development of solvometallurgy will be given, with emphasis on recent work done at the SOLVOMET group of KU Leuven.









This seminar is organized under the umbrella of both the IMCN institute (Institute of Condensed Matter and Nanosciences) and iMMC (Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering).

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