Welcome to

SOLVOMET

SOLVOMET is KU Leuven’s Research and Innovation Centre for Circular Hydrometallurgy. We support mining, metallurgical and recycling companies in the development of more sustainable (circular, low-energy input) hydrometallurgical processes, using state-of-the-art lab and mini-pilot scale experimental facilities and modelling capabilities.

SOLVOMET’s vision is that metallurgical chemistry expertise allows to develop more efficient eco-friendly hydrometallurgical and solvometallurgical processes to provide the critical metals that are needed for the transition to a climate-neutral society.

SOLVOMET’s mission is to support its industry partners in the conceptual and practical development of more sustainable (circular, low-energy input) hydrometallurgical (and solvometallurgical) processes, which are subsequently tested using state-of-the-art lab-scale and mini-pilot-scale experimental facilities.

Circular Hydrometallurgy

Genuine breakthroughs in hydrometallurgy will not come from the use of neoteric solvents like ionic liquids or deep-eutectic solvents, but rather from a deep understanding of hydro-processes at a molecular level. Hydrometallurgy needs to evolve to low-energy-input circular hydrometallurgy.

Circular hydrometallurgy is the area of hydrometallurgy that focuses on the design of energy-efficient flowsheets or unit processes that consume a minimal amount of reagents and produce virtually no waste. It entails a different way of thinking about how hydrometallurgy is practiced, both for primary mining and recycling processes. Circularity refers to the regeneration and reuse of all the reagents in a process.

Our main expertise

  • Chemical and mineralogical characterisation of metal-bearing ores, concentrates, tailings, industrial process residues and postconsumer waste
  • Development of eco-friendly hydrometallurgical unit processes for metal recovery (advanced leaching) and purification (solvent extraction, ion exchange…)
  • Development of (near-circular, low-energy-input) hydrometallurgical flowsheets
  • Validation of hydrometallurgical unit processes and circular flowsheets on mini-pilot scale
  • Thermodynamic modelling of hydrometallurgical processes
  • Forensic hydrometallurgy

Research philosophy

Guided by our Twelve Principles of Circular Hydrometallurgy, SOLVOMET targets:

  • Applied, medium-to-high TRL R and I (EU (Research) Innovation Action projects and bilateral projects with/funded by industry)
  • Development of new unit processes and flowsheets that are scalable and industrially realistic
  • Insight and understanding of real-world, industrial problems at a molecular level

Equipment

Research Facilities

SOLVOMET

Key metals of interest

Battery Metals

Li

Lithium

6.94

Ni

Nickel

58.6934(4)

Mn

Manganese

54.938044(3)

Co

Cobalt

58.933194(4)

Precious Metals

Rh

Rhodium

102.90550(2)

Pd

Palladium

106.42(1)

Pt

Platinum

195.084(9)

Au

Gold

196.966569(5)

Rare Earths

Nd

Neodymium

144.242(3)

Pr

Praseodymium

140.90766(2)

Refractory Metals

Nb

Niobium

92.90637(2)

Ta

Tantalum

180.94788(2)

Base Metals

Pb

Lead

207.2(1)

Cu

Copper

63.546(3)

Zn

Zinc

65.38(2)

Sn

Tin

118.710(7)

Li

Lithium

6.94

Ni

Nickel

58.6934(4)

Mn

Manganese

54.938044(3)

Co

Cobalt

58.933194(4)

Rh

Rhodium

102.90550(2)

Pd

Paladium

106.42(1)

Pt

Platinum

195.084(9)

Au

Gold

196.966569(5)

Nd

Neodymium

144.242(3)

Pr

Praseodymium

140.90766(2)

Nb

Niobium

92.90637(2)

Ta

Tantalum

180.94788(2)

Pb

Lead

207.2(1)

Cu

Copper

63.546(3)

Zn

Zinc

65.38(2)

Sn

Tin

118.710(7)

SOLVOMET

Meet Our Team

Meryem Özge Arman

Postdoctoral Researcher

Seyedeh Maryam Sadeghi

Postdoctoral Researcher

Ionuț-Alexandru Popa

Project Manager

Dzenita Avdibegovic

Postdoctoral Researcher

Lieven Machiels

Research Manager

Peter Tom Jones

IOF Research Manager

Rabab Nasser

Project Manager

Carlos Arias Quintero

PhD Student

Azadeh Ghannad Asadollahi

Technical staff

Vincent Cool

PhD Student

Koen Binnemans

Head of SOLVOMET Group

Clio Deferm

Research Manager

Sharron (Xiaohua) Li

Postdoctoral Researcher

Pieter Geysens

Postdoctoral Researcher

Alexandra Alexandri

Technical staff

Nand Peeters

Postdoctoral Researcher

Elisabeth De Decker

Financial Manager

Brecht Dewulf

Postdoctoral Researcher

Rayco Lommelen

Research Expert

Viet Tu Nguyen

Research Expert

Almir Olovcic

Researcher

Jakob Bussé

Researcher

Thomas Abo Atia

Research Manager

Get in touch

SOLVOMET creates innovative solutions for real-world problems.

Work at SOLVOMET

If you are interested in joining our group, please check out our current openings.

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SOLVOMET performs contract research with industry partners across the world.

services

What we do

How we do it
  • We go beyond a basic, trial-and-error methodology to develop or optimise hydrometallurgical flowsheets
  • We combine experimental testing on lab/mini-pilot scale with detailed feed characterisation, thermodynamic and kinetic modelling, and a deep, molecular understanding of metal extraction mechanisms
  • We build up and maintain stable, long-lasting relationships of trust with key players in the metallurgical industry
Battery Raw Materials
  • Ni/Co metallurgy and flowsheeting
  • Li metallurgy and flow sheeting
  • Competence in Mn SX for battery grade Mn production
  • Recovery of other metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, ...). Impurity removal and outlet in all flowsheets (As, Fe, Al, ...)
Thermodynamic modelling
  • SOLVOMET can build predictive hydrometallurgical equilibrium models
  • SOLVOMET can calculate complex hydrometallurgical systems including multi-phase equilibria and electrolyte solutions
  • SOLVOMET can build accurate models (>90% accuracy) with experience in solvent extraction, leaching, and precipitation
K. Binnemans and P.T. Jones, The Twelve Principles of Circular Hydrometallurgy, Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy 9(1) (2023) 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40831-022-00636-3

Partners

SOLVOMET bilateral projects​

Hydro-flowsheet development

Hydro-flowsheet development

Thermodynamic modelling of SX processes

Lithium-flowsheet development (Thacker Pass project, Li-clays)

Lithium-flowsheet development (Salar de Atacama, Li-brines)

Application of bromine technology in urban mining/recycling

Metal recovery from steelmaking sludges

Ag recovery hydro-flowsheet

Application of GTL solvents in hydro-flowsheet

Hydro-flowsheet development

Hydro-flowsheet development (for EoL tyre recycling)

Urban mining /recycling study (REEs)

Developing flowsheets for Sn recovery

Hydro-flowsheet development

Hydro-flowsheet development

Thermodynamic modelling of SX processes

Lithium-flowsheet development (Thacker Pass project, Li-clays)

Lithium-flowsheet development (Salar de Atacama, Li-brines)

Application of bromine technology in urban mining/recycling

Metal recovery from steelmaking sludges

Ag recovery hydro-flowsheet

Application of GTL solvents in hydro-flowsheet

Hydro-flowsheet development

Hydro-flowsheet development (for EoL tyre recycling)

Urban mining /recycling study (REEs)

Developing flowsheets for Sn recovery

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