Darmstadt Symposium on critical metals (July 13)

On the 13th of July there will be a milestone Symposium on the importance of critical metals for green energy technologies. The Symposium takes place in Darmstadt, Germany. A number of keynote lectures by renowned experts, including Prof. Oliver Gutfleisch, will provide a unique update on the Great Transition towards a low-carbon circular economy.

The unsustainability of our fossil fuel based society and economy is at the beginning of the end. Today, the critical supply of primary and secondary resources directly impacts on the development and cost of advanced materials which form the basis for a number of latest green energy technologies. The efficient utilisation or substitution of strategic metals with more sustainable and earth abundant elements is the big challenge for the Great Transition. Well-known experts from academia and industry will give key-note lectures addressing the substitutionability of critical metals in the different classes of functional materials. The aim is to develop new materials and efficient energy technologies with a reduced supply risk and enhanced environmental sustainability.

The workshop is jointly organised by the DGM FachausschĂĽsse Funktionswerkstoffe and Werkstoffe der Energietechnik and the Jung-DGM Darmstadt. Co-organisers are the Fraunhofer Project Group Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS, the Hessen LOEWE Excellence Cluster RESPONSE, the TU Darmstadt Profile Area Future Energy Systems and the KIC EIT Raw Materials.

Download the full programme here

Orangerie, Darmstadt

Towards a new Rare Earth Association: GloREIA

The EIT RawMaterials has approved the GloREIA project, which stands for “Towards a Global Rare Earth Industry Association”. The funding for this EIT RawMaterials project is 300,000 EUR, pending final approval and funding decision by EIT later this year


Rare earth elements are essential for the transition towards sustainability. However, rare earths, are critical metals and only one country, China, dominates the entire supply chain with its own domestic pitfalls such as environmental pollution, illegal mining, impacting international market. As highlighted by the European Rare Earths Competency Network (ERECON), boosting supply security through enhanced cooperation among European end-users and other stakeholders should receive top priority. However, enhancing collaboration between the REE supply chain is a major challenge because unlike many other types of metals and elements, there is no REE industry association which gathers all relevant stakeholders. The reason an association like this one does not exist is not because it is not needed. On the contrary, the REE industry faces numerous obstacles such as inefficient recovery of rare earths from end users/end products (see for instance EREAN/DEMETER Policy Brief, June 2017), high environmental impact from production and processing, high volatility of the raw material prices and low competition from countries outside China. To combat these issues, GloREIA, concurrently gathers (1) key supply chain actors currently already on the global market and (2) shares and creates information which leads to an innovative REE industry of the future.


GloREIA is original because it will be the first consortium to merge the results of REE research with wider society. It is made up of an intersectoral and interdisciplinary consortium of leading EU universities, research institutes and manufacturers from the sector make up this project consortium. The project challenges include the development of a strong REE network that includes China, providing a space for research activities to be launched in industry, and strengthening the capacity to influence REE supply on a global scale. In many ways it will build upon the work of the ERECON network, previously established by the European Parliament and the European Commission


GloREIA Partnership

KU Leuven (co-ordinator), (Belgium); CML-Leiden University, (Netherlands); GEUS (Denmark) and leading industry partners (KOLEKTOR (Germany); NEO Performance Materials (Estonia); and Magneti (Slovenia))



New Policy Brief on EU Rare Earth Supply Chain

On May 28-31, 2017, more than 200 people took part in the 2nd Conference on European Rare Earth Resources, a joint organisation by two key REE projects in Europe: FP7 EURARE and H2020 MC-ITN EREAN. The venue for this event was the picturesque Greek island of Santorini. It was an intriguing conference, which offered lots of food for thought.

In order to stimulate more policy debate about the Europe’s Rare Earth Element (REE) supply, Dr. Peter Tom Jones (SIM² KU Leuven) wrote a Policy Brief for the MC-ITN EREAN and MSCA-ETN DEMETER projects. The Policy Brief covers six lessons learned:

  1. The Balance Problem is more relevant than ever;
  2. REE recycling still lurking in the shadows;
  3. Primary REE mining in Europe: the Kvjanefeld project seems to be the winner;
  4. Social license to operate is key;
  5. Beyond REEs: watch out for the new CRM figure of the EC;
  6. REE research in Europe: Quo Vadis?

Lots of food for thought… as we said! Reactions are welcome at peter.jones@kuleuven.be.

Dowload Policy Brief DEMETER_EREAN_”ERES 2017: Six Lessons Learned”



The European Rare Earth (Magnet) Recycling Network (EREAN) trains 15 young researchers in the science and technology of rare earths, with emphasis on the recycling of these elements from neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets.


DEMETER is the European Training Network for the Design and Recycling of Rare-Earth Permanent Magnet Motors and Generators in Hybrid and Full Electric Vehicles. DEMETER concurrently develops (1) innovative, environmentally-friendly direct and indirect recycling strategies for the permanent magnets in the motors and generators of (H)EVs that are  currently already on the market and (2) Design-for-Reuse solutions for motors and generators in the (H)EVs of the future.


Policy Brief DEMETER_EREAN_June 2017_FINAL

ETN SOCRATES launches new animation video

Europe strongly depends on the import of metals from China for its clean technologies. Researchers of the EU Horizon 2020 SOCRATES project try to reduce this dependence by finding new eco-friendly ways to recover these metals from industrial process residues. The SOCRATES team has now just released a new animation video featuring SOCRATES PhD students as presenters. This film was made in collaboration with Storyrunner (Leuven, 4-7-2017)

The bottom ashes of incinerators, or the waste from zinc and copper production: all of these residues have unexploited potential. The sludge from zinc production, for instance, contains valuable metals and minerals that are lost as the waste is stored in landfills. The researchers of the EU SOCRATES project are developing zero-waste methods to recover the valuable metals that can be used for cleantech technologies. Once these metals have been recovered, the scientists transform the remaining minerals into an eco-friendly cement for houses and streets – today’s waste, tomorrow’s resources. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ilrNeKG4D8



The European Training Network for the Sustainable, zero-waste valorisation of critical-metal-containing industrial process residues (SOCRATES) targets ground-breaking metallurgical processes, incl. plasma-, bio-, solvo-, electro- and ionometallurgy, that can be integrated into environmentally friendly, (near-)zero-waste valorisation flow sheets. By unlocking the potential of these secondary raw materials, SOCRATES contributes to a more diversified and sustainable supply chain for critical metals (cf. Priority area 3 in EC Circular Economy Action Plan; COM(2015)614/2). The SOCRATES consortium brings together all the relevant stakeholders along the value chain, from metal extraction, to metal recovery, and to residual matrix valorisation in added-value applications, such as supplementary cementitious materials, inorganic polymers and catalysts. To maximise applicability, SOCRATES has selected four commonly available and chemically complementary residue families: (1) flotation tailings from primary Cu production, (2) Fe-rich sludges from Zn production, (3) fayalitic slags from non-ferrous metallurgy, and (4) bottom ashes from incineration plants. As a basis for a concerted effort to strengthen the EU’s critical-metal supply chain for Ge, In, Ga and Sb, SOCRATES trains 15 early-stage researchers (ESRs) in technological innovation: metal extraction (WP1), metal recovery (WP2), residual matrix valorisation (WP3) and integrated assessment (WP4). By training the ESRs in scientific, technical and soft skills, they are the next generation of highly employable scientists and engineers in the raw-materials sector.




FP7 MC-ITN EREAN Presentations at ERES 2017

EREAN ESRs and Supervisors published a number of papers in the ERES 2017 Conference. Here below you can find the titles of the EREAN papers/presentations.

  • Yongxiang YANG, REE Recovery from End-of-Life Permanent Magnet Scrap: Challenges and Opportunities in Europe
  • Aida ABBASALIZADEH, Seshadri SEETHARAMAN, Jilt SIETSMA and Yongxiang YANG, Electrochemical extraction of RE from REO using a novel reactive anode
  • Junhua XU, Efficient Recovery and Separation of Co, Nd and Dy from Ternary Solution Using Amorphous Zircomnium Phosphate and Nitric Acid
  • SofĂ­a RIANO, Koen BINNEMANS, Recovery of Neodymium and Dysprosium from NdFeB Magnets using Ionic Liquid Technology
  • Prakash VENKATESAN, Electrochemical recycling of REEs from NdFeB magnet waste
  • Mehmet Ali Recai Ă–NAL, Emir AKTAN, Chenna Rao BORRA, Muxing GUO, Bart BLANPAIN, Tom VAN GERVEN, Recycling of NdFeB Magnets with Nitration-Calcination-Water Leaching
  • Christian JĂ–NSSON, Extraction of Nd-Fe-B magnets from automotive rotors using hydrogen
  • Alexandru LIXANDRU, Iuliana POENARU, Konrad GĂśTH, Roland GAUSS, Oliver GUTFLEISCH, Recycling of Nd-Fe-B scrap permanent magnets via hydrogen processing
  • Iuliana POENARU, Alexandru LIXANDRU, Konrad GĂśTH, Roland GAUSS, Oliver GUTFLEISCH, Light rare-earths substitution in rapidly solidified Nd2Fe14B-based alloys for resource-efficient permanent magnets fabrication
  • Rita SCHULZE, Aida ABBASALIZADEH, Matthias BUCHERT, Estimating environmental impacts associated with a one-step recycling process to extract rare earths from end-of-life Nd-Fe-B magnets
  • Mikhail S. TYUMENTSEV, Development of polyamide solvent extraction reagents for trivalent lanthanides