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.

Centrifuge Heraeus Labofuge 200

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




Laboratory shaker Eppendorf Thermomixer C (3 shakers)

Specifications: Different heating blocks for various vials, including 1.5 mL, 2 mL, 15 mL and 50 mL tubes for lab-scale shaking experiments; Mixing frequency: 300 - 3000 rpm (1.5 mm mixing radius), Temperature range: 15-100 °C.




Laboratory shaker TMS-300 Thermoshaker (6 shakers)

Specifications: Lab-scale shaking of various glass and plastic vials; Mixing frequency: 300 - 3000 rpm (1.5 mm mixing radius); Temperature range: 25-100 °C.




Separatory funnel shaker MEDLINE RS-1

This shaker can be used for intensive vertical reciprocating agitation of separatory funnels for solvent extraction. Up to 6 funnels can be shaken simultaneously in identical conditions. The maximum stroke length of the vertical motion is 40 mm, and shakings speeds between 50 and 300 rpm are available.

Welcome to SOLVOMET

Solvomet Centre

SOLVOMET is KU Leuven’s Centre for Solvometallurgy. SOLVOMET’s mission is to support its industrial and RTD partners in the conceptual and practical development of more sustainable solvometallurgical separation processes and new mining chemicals, which are subsequently tested using state-of-the-art lab-scale and mini pilot-scale experimental facilities.

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