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Environmental Economics (EEC) : project R-10073

Title : Development and environmental techno-economic assessment of a novel reactor for metals recovery through innovative bio-hydrometallurgy (R-10073)
Abstract: Over the course of the last decade, businesses and policy-makers within the European Union (EU) have become increasingly aware of the critical importance of a sustainable supply of metals for the EU economy. As one means to increase the supply of available metals, research is ongoing to develop more efficient solutions for extracting metals from marginal mineral resources and to enable their recycling from secondary resources. In the proposed project, a novel reactor (developed at U Liège) used in biohydrometallurgical practices for metal extraction is enhanced at lab scale and assessed with regard to its economic and environmental viability. The project target will be realized by fulfilling the following four objectives (i) quantifying the relationship between reactor operational parameters and metal bio-leaching efficiency (WP1), (ii) constructing the enhanced bioreactor with separate carrier-substrate compartments, supported by modelling and real-time simulation (WP2), (iii) quantifying the economic viability of the novel reactor for market-relevant cases of metals extraction (WP3), and (iv) quantifying the environmental impacts of reactor usage (WP4). The proposed research promotes more resource-efficient supply of metals using marginal streams from within the EU. The inclusion of environmental TEA that accounts for both economic and environmental aspects will give quantitative insights into the viability of the novel reactor design and its products from an investor, and a societal perspective. Ultimately, the project will contribute to making presently uneconomic raw materials in the EU economically and environmentally viable, thus facilitating the transition to a more circular economy by means of sustainable raw material supplies from within the EU. The research contributes to further strengthen an existing research collaboration between the partnering institutions by bringing together U Liège's expertise in the development of innovative processes for an efficient management of mineral and metallic resources with UHasselt's expertise in economic and environmental technology assessments. Moreover, the circular economy thrust of the project is fully aligned with the research missions of both universities.
Period of project : 1/10/2019to1/10/2019

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