On November 26, 2019, the KU Leuven Academic Council has formally recognised SIM² KU Leuven as one of the 4 flagship “KU Leuven Institutes” that will start their activities on January 1, 2020. The KU Leuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals (“SIM²”) wants to contribute to the environmentally friendly production and recycling of metals, minerals and engineered materials. As such, it aims to support the transition to a climate-friendly, circular economy, in line with the ambitions of the new European Commission to become climate neutral by 2050 (The European Green Deal, COM(2019)640).
The KU Leuven Institutes represent interdisciplinary research with a crucial societal relevance. They focus on subjects that remain important in the long term and rely on an extensive and interdisciplinary network. They are the ideal basis for the exchange of expertise across disciplinary boundaries, opening up promising new prospects. “For the University, the Leuven Institutes are a way to highlight certain focal points in research – a strategic instrument, in other words.” (KU Leuven Rector Luc Sels) (Read Interview with Rector Luc Sels here).
On November 26, 2019, the KU Leuven Academic Council officially recognised 4 KU Leuven Institutes:
- LBI – KU LEUVEN BRAIN INSTITute,
- LKI – KU LEUVEN CANCER INSTITUTE,
- SIM² – KU LEUVEN INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE METALS AND MINERALS,
- Leuven.AI – KU LEUVEN INSTITute for Artificial Intelligence.
KU Leuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals
SIM² KU Leuven’s mission is “to develop, organise and implement problem-driven, science deep research and future-oriented education, contributing to the environmentally friendly production and recycling of metals, minerals and engineered materials, supporting the transition to a climate-friendly, circular-economy. SIM² KU Leuven therefore designs, researches and exploits selective and efficient processes for the exploration, extraction, recovery, recycling and refining of (base and critical) metals and minerals, as well as for the upcycling of primary and secondary resources. SIM² KU Leuven assesses and advances the environmental gains and the economic feasibility of the developed flow sheets. In order to support the Social License to Operate for the associated industrial activities, SIM² KU Leuven pro-actively engages with external stakeholders, including civil society groups and local communities.“
This formal recognition as a KU Leuven Institute will act as a catalyst for the SIM² team to collaborate even more intensively with its core partners in Flanders (cf. “Flanders Metal Valley”), Belgium & Europe (e.g. EIT RawMaterials) and beyond (e.g. CR³) to help realising its mission and vision (“A society that uses its resources in an efficient, effective and sustainable way”).
Early 2020 SIM² will be organising a General Assembly meeting to welcome new KU Leuven PI’s and to finetune its strategic research lines and plans for the future.
Timeline SIM² KU Leuven
- 2003 – Initiation Centre for Refractory Materials (Umicore, “ALZ”, “Sidmar”) (now Centre for HiTemp Processes and Sustainable Materials Management, funded by Umicore, Aperam, Metallo and Orbix)
- 2005 – Leuven Materials Research Centre (MRC) established
- 2009 – IOF Knowledge Platform SMaRT-Pro²
- 2009 – Start-up InsPyro spin-off company
- 2010 – Start-up NSF-sponsored I/UCRC Centre for Resource Recovery and Recycling
- 2011 – IOF Leverage Project to prepare launching of SIM² KU Leuven 2011
- 2011 – SIM² KU Leuven formally established
- 2012 – IOF Knowledge Platform on Rare Earth Recycling and Start-up SUMMA (policy research centre)
- 2014 – SIM MaRes Programme and EIT RawMaterials formally approved
- 2016 – Spin-out RESOURCEFULL
- 2016 – EIT Label Master in Sustainable Materials (Leuven, INP Grenoble, U Milano-Bicocca, U Trento, MU Leoben)
- 2017 – C3 SOLMET approved leading to SOLVOMET Industrial Service Centre (Department of Chemistry)
- 2017 – Policy research centre for Circular Economy
- 2018 – SIM² KU Leuven requests to become a formal KU Leuven Institute
- 2019 – SIM² KU Leuven receives “KU Leuven Institute” status
SIM² KU Leuven Steercom
- Peter Tom Jones (SIM² Director), Bart Blanpain, Yiannis Pontikes, Marion Bechtold (Department of Materials Engineering);
- Koen Binnemans, Lieven Machiels (Department of Chemistry);
- Tom Van Gerven (Department of Chemical Engineering);
- Philippe Muchez (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences);
- Valérie Cappuyns (Centre for Economics and Corporate Sustainability);
- Karel Van Acker (Department of Materials Engineering & Centre for Economics and Corporate Sustainability)