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Contract research projects

Short-term, targeted bilateral contract research projects

SOLVOMET ISC has a rich history of working together with companies from all over the world in short-term, targeted contract research projects (typical duration: 4-12 months; typical budgets: 50-100 kEURO).

This involves a direct, bilateral cooperation where the industrial partner (or RTD Centre) requests a specific service from SOLVOMET ISC, based on the provided offer (see SOLVOMET flagship services). These bilateral projects may include (1) Targeted literature reviews; (2.) Consultancy assignments, (3) Lab-scale feasibility studies, (4) Analytical services, (5) Upscaling/mini pilot-scale tests on leaching, metal separation & refining (e.g. solvent extraction, cementation, precipitation).

Input materials may vary from urban End-of-Life waste, extractive waste (incl. flotation tailings), industrial process residues such as slags, sludges, ashes or drosses, or concentrates from multi-metallic primary ores. SOLVOMET ISC has a strong track record in both critical metals (REEs, Li, Ni/Co, PGMs, Nb/Ta…) and base metals (Cu, Zn, Fe…).

For these kind of projects a Research Agreement is set up, in which the terms and conditions are detailed (foreground IP is transferred to the company). SOLVOMET gets the support from Leuven Research & Development (LRD KU Leuven) to develop these contracts.

Long-term framework agreements

As a result of providing excellent results in short-term bilateral projects, SOLVOMET ISC has also initiated a number of long-term framework agreements with several mining & metallurgical companies. The typical duration for these kind of contracts is 2 to 5 years. In terms of IP and type of contract, the same principles as above are valid. 

In these projects, the company requests longer-term support. The project activities are discussed during monthly steering committees where the results of the previous month are presented and discussed, while the programme for the coming months is jointly prepared.

Trust is key

The basic principle for both types of bilateral projects is to develop a tailored approach, based on trust between the industrial/RTD partner and SOLVOMET ISC. The primary goal is to help solving problems and/or to find new opportunities. Academic targets are secondary in these projects. To obtain more details we advise you to contact us directly.

Top-level Research Managers & Experts

For each bilateral project, SOLVOMET ISC appoints an experienced Permanent Staff Research Manager. This person is the primary contact point for the company throughout the duration of the project. For the lab/pilot activities, SOLVOMET ISC involves several Permanent Staff Research Experts and senior postdocs, each with a particular expertise (e.g. advanced leaching, solvent extraction, ion exchange, thermodynamic modelling, electrowinning…).

Furthermore, SOLVOMET ISC also has several highly experienced Permanent Staff Lab Technicians (e.g. ICP-OES/MS) and Research Associates, who are actively involved in the bilateral projects. This methodology allows to offer the best possible support to the companies.

SOLVOMET ISC’s bilateral projects (present & finalised collaborations)

SOLVOMET ISC’s key metals of interest (list is not exhaustive)

SOLVOMET team members


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

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