DEMETER video wins prize during EC JRC conference

The ETN DEMETER project participated in the EU4FACTS video & poster competition. Researchers were invited to create videos and posters to showcase their research and relate it to the topics of the EU4FACTS conference. These topics dealt with the role of science in times of fake news and ‘filter bubbles’ (Why should we trust science?), governing: emotions versus numbers (How to deal with ‘alternative’ sources of statistics?), and re-designing policymaking using behavioral and decision science (How can evidence and data be effectively balanced with values and emotions when policy decisions are taken?).

In total, 24 videos and a dozen posters entered the competition (all videos can be watched online on; in the series, the videos of ETN NEW-MINE and ETN SOCRATES are also featured). The ETN DEMETER video was awarded as an example on how science can contribute to evidence based policy making, sending out a clear example on what the project objectives are and how it relates to the broader international context.

The JRC annual conference “EU4FACTS: Evidence for policy in a post-fact world” started with the award ceremony announcing the winners of the video competition. The conference aims at clear recommendations for successful evidence-informed policy making: “The interaction between science and policy has never been straightforward. But this relationship has been further complicated by the current post-fact debate. This crisis is a challenge for the whole of society, not only scientists, experts, the media and policymakers, but also for politicians.”

Throughout the conference, a strong emphasis was placed on the need for involving citizens a lot more in the communication of the scientific evidence. “Citizens no longer accept being told what to believe. They want to know why they should believe it,” explained Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research Science & Innovation. We are proud that the DEMETER video demonstrated on how complex scientific processes can be presented in a clear manner to a broad audience.

Later that day, the ETN DEMETER team also participated to the European Researchers Night, organized in the European Parliament under the slogan “Science is wonder-full”. During this annual event researchers demonstrate what really do for society in interactive and engaging ways, promoting research careers to young people and their parents. It is an Europe-wide public event dedicated to popular science and fun learning. It is supported by the European Commission as a part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, to boost the careers of researchers.



EC publishes new list of Critical Raw Materials

On September 13, 2017, the European Commission finally published a Communication on its long-awaited updated list of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs). The impact of this iconic list cannot be underestimated. Its primary purpose is to identify the raw materials with a high supply-risk and a high economic importance to which reliable and unfettered access is a concern for European industry and value chains. Following a further refined methodology the list provides, according to the Commission,  “a factual tool for trade, innovation and industrial policy measures to strengthen the competitiveness of European industry in line with the renewed industrial strategy for Europe, for instance by: identifying investment needs which can help alleviate Europe’s reliance on imports of raw materials; guiding support to innovation on raw materials supply under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme; drawing attention to the importance of critical raw materials for the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient and more circular economy.”

The 2017 features 27 critical raw materials: Antimony, Beryllium, Borates, Cobalt, (Coking Coal), Fluorspar, Gallium, Germanium, Indium, Magnesium, Natural Graphite, Niobium, Phosphate Rock, Silicon Metal, Tungsten, Platinum Group Metals, Light Rare Earths and Heavy Rare Earths, Baryte, Bismuth, Hafnium, Helium, Natural Rubber, Phosphorus, Scandium, Tantalum, and Vanadium.

SIM² KU Leuven has been and is working on the recovery/recycling of several of those, being Antimony, Cobalt, Gallium, Germanium, Indium, PGMs, Light and Heavy REEs and Scandium. Together with its national partners (like VITO, UGent, Umicore, Campine, Metallo, Nyrstar, Solvay etc.) and its EU partners (industry and academia, cf. EIT RawMaterials and H2020 ETN/(R)IA partners), SIM² KU Leuven looks forward to use this list of CRMs when prioritising – in the near future – which (primary and secondary) EU-based resources to work on in view of CRM recovery.

One key element that is not on the list, and which is nevertheless of crucial importance for the transition to a low-carbon economy, is Lithium.  SIM² KU Leuven will work on this element regardless and let’s see if this element misses out in the next update… (ptj, 20-9-2019)

Download the CRM 2017 REPORT here:



In memoriam Prof. Risto Harjula (Helsinki U.)

SIM² KU Leuven and the EU teams of the EREAN and REDMUD projects are deeply saddened to hear the news that our wonderful colleague, Prof. Risto Harjula (University of Helsinki), has passed away on September 11, 2017. We offer our sincere condolences to Risto’s family and Helsinki colleagues. For us, Risto Harjula was one of the greatest persons we have ever worked with in our EU projects. We fully agree with Risto’s colleague, Prof. Risto Koivula, that “we have to remember Risto’s joy and genuine excitement with chemistry, research and finding new things that can benefit people. For him science was not just writing papers it was making the world into a better place.”

Risto, it was an absolute pleasure working with you. We will deeply miss you.


(Peter Tom Jones, Rabab Nasser, Lucian Onisei, Yiannis Pontikes, Bart Blanpain, Karel Van Acker, Tom Van Gerven & Koen Binnemans, for SIM² KU Leuven and representing all colleagues from the EU EREAN and REDMUD projects in which we work so well with Helsinki Unversity)

SOLVOMET, a new Industrial Service Centre

SOLVOMET LOGOSIM² KU Leuven is delighted to announce that it has just launched a new Industrial Service Centre, which is focussed on developing and commercialising solvometallurgical flow sheets or key elements within larger flow sheets that combine pyro-, hydro- and solvo-parts. 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.

What is solvometallurgy?

Solvometallurgy is to be considered as an emerging branch of extractive metallurgy. In contrast with hydrometallurgy, solvometallurgy employs non-aqueous solutions to extract metals from ores, industrial process residues, production scrap and urban waste. In order to position this emerging branch, Prof. Koen Binnemans (holder of ERC Advanced Grant SOLCRIMET – Solvometallurgy for critical metals) and Dr. Peter Tom Jones recently authored a position (open access) paper to present the opportunities and challenges for this exciting development within the metallurgy domain (J. Sustain. Metall. (2017) 3:570–600). Download here).

SOLVOMET: goal and mission

SOLVOMET is developed as a Service Centre for its industrial partners and large RTD Centres, who are leading actors in the fields of primary mining, mining chemicals and chemical metallurgy. The Centre is set up to industrially valorise the expertise in solvometallurgy that has been and is being developed in Prof. Koen Binnemans’ Research Group (Department of Chemistry, KU Leuven, Belgium) and his associated ERC Advanced Grant SOLCRIMET project. The Centre works in synergy with the HiTemp Centre and SIM² KU Leuven, as the goal is to embed the developed chemicals and processes into zero-waste valorisation flow sheets for base and critical-metal-containing End-of-Life waste as well as low-grade primary ores, extractive waste and industrial process residues.

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. The mission of the Centre also includes upscaling the processes and solutions that have been developed on a lab-scale towards a mini-pilot-scale, thus taking Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) from 3-4 to 5-6.

C3 KU Leuven SO(VO)MET project

In order to help establishing this new Industrial Service Centre, the Industrial Research Fund of KU Leuven has recently funded an internal C3 KU Leuven project: SO(VO)LMET (Solvometallurgy for base and critical metals). This project provides 350 k€ of leverage funding for mini-pilot scale investments (solvometallurgical leaching equipment) and for developing upscaling science/technology skills (for a selection of generic case-studies).

New SOLVOMET website

Since September 2017, SOLVOMET also has a brand new website, which provides in-depth information about the solvometallurgy domain (incl. review paper on the benefits of solvometallurgy), the available research facilities that are offered to the industrial/RTD partners, the top achievements in the area, the service offer and a very comprehensive resource library containing a multitude of relevant peer-reviewed publications by the SOLVOMET founders (Binnemans & Jones) and researchers.

The service offer to companies and RTD Centres ranges from (1) Targeted literature reviews; (2.) Consultancy assignments, (3) Lab-scale feasibility studies, (4) Analytical services, (5) Upscaling/mini pilot-scale tests on solvometallurgical leaching, solvent extraction etc.

More information?

If want to know more about this new Service Centre, please contact Prof. Koen Binnemans or Dr. Peter Tom Jones:


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 Fachausschüsse 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