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3. Liquid-liquid solvent extraction studies

Lab-scale solvent extraction studies focus on the development of a solvent extraction process to selectively separate targeted metals ions from a feed solution, for instance produced during a previous leaching study. First, several extractant systems are screened based on the composition of the feed solution and the targeted metal ions, using small scale shaking tests. The extractants can either be commercially available or tailor-made in our synthesis lab. The performance of the extractant is evaluated based on the distribution ratio, percentage extraction and separation factors to gain insight into the amount of extraction and the selectivity of the system for the targeted metal ions. The best performing extraction system is further explored by optimisation of several extraction parameters, including shaking time, temperature, extractant concentration, salt concentration, pH, phase ratio, … The same procedure is followed for the selection of a suitable stripping agent. The best stripping agent is selected based on the system and the results of a screening study. Next, the process parameters are optimised to achieve full recovery of the extracted metal ions. Furthermore, the stability and reusability of the extraction solvent is investigated.

Available equipment: thermoshakers, separatory funnel shaker, magnetic stirring plates with heating blocks, centrifuge.


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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Centrifuge Thermo Scientific Heraeus Labofuge 200, lab 01.314

The Heraeus Labofuge 200 allow centrifugation of a wide range of plastic and glass vessels and tubes.

Centrifuge Eppendorf 5804, lab 01.314

Eppendorf 5804 allow centrifugation of a wide range of plastic and glass vessels and tubes.

Laboratory shaker ThermoFisher MaxQ2000 Model SHKE2000-1CE, lab 01.170

Specifications: Open-Air Platform Shaker for the shaking of glass vials and centrifuge tubes at room temperature. Different transfer racks and mounting plates are available to mount your samples. Also a plate for shaking separatory funnels is available. Mixing frequency: 15 to 500 rpm, ±1 rpm (1.9 cm orbit)

Laboratory shaker Burrell Scientific Wrist Action™ shaker Model 95, lab 01.170

Specifications: Variable speed wrist action shaker to shake of a large variety of vessels, attached to the side arms with adjustable clamps. Max mixing frequency: 450 rpm; Shaking Angle: 0 to 15°

Laboratory shaker Gerhardt Thermoshake incubator shaker Model THO 500/1, lab 01.170

Specifications: For homogeneous mixing by a circular motion at a constant temperature and constant speed in continuous operation. The precise temperature monitoring and thermally insulated temperature chamber guarantee stable temperatures. The temperature can be set continuously from 5 °C above room temperature up to 60 °C and remains precisely constant to within < 1°C. Mixing frequency: 20 to 200 rpm

Laboratory shaker Kuhner ES-X Lab-Shaker, lab 01.170


Specifications: The ES-X is a specially designed shaker with a separate controller. The shaking unit with its stainless steel casing can be placed in areas of high temperature (up to 80°C) and humidity (up to 95% rH). A Tray with support bars is available to mount on the shaker. There are three shaking diameters available: 12.5, 25 and 50mm. The mixing frequency is dependent on the shaking motion, linear or circular, and the shaking diameter:


Shaking motion Mixing frequency
orbital, Ø 12.5 mm 20–500 rpm
orbital, Ø 25.0 mm 20–400 rpm
orbital, Ø 50.0 mm 20–300 rpm
linear, Ø 12.5 mm 20–400 rpm
linear, Ø 25.0 mm 20–300 rpm
linear, Ø 50.0 mm 20–200 rpm