The overall objective is to develop a new, metallurgical approach – i.e. solvometallurgy – that can be applied to different types of pre- and post-consumer waste in order to recover the following critical metals: the rare earths, tantalum, niobium, gallium, indium, germanium and antimony. This processing must be environmentally friendly, economically viable and produce metals of acceptable purity. The achievement of the main objective is built on four sub-objectives:

  • New routes for dissolving metals and alloys in organic solvents;
  • New ways to separate metal chlorides based on differential solubility in organic solvents;
  • New paths to purify critical metals using two mutually immiscible organic solvents;
  • New techniques for refining critical metals in an electrolytic cell using organic solvents.

Achieving these four sub-objectives will lead to a new paradigm in recycling and completely alter the whole concept of extracting critical metals from different forms of waste.

New EC List on Crtitical Raw Materials (EC, 2017) (credits image: Paul McGuiness)