Summer school: Digitizing the Circular Economy

Metallurgy is a key enabler of a circular economy (CE), its digitization is the metallurgical Internet of Things (m-IoT). In short: Metallurgy is at the heart of a CE, as metals all have strong intrinsic recycling potentials. Process metallurgy, as a key enabler for a CE, will help much to deliver its goals. The first-principles models of process engineering help quantify the resource efficiency (RE) of the CE system, connecting all stakeholders via digitization. This provides well-argued and first-principles environmental information to empower a tax paying consumer society, policy, legislators, and environmentalists. It provides the details of capital expenditure and operational expenditure estimates. Through this path, the opportunities and limits of a CE, recycling, and its technology can be estimated. The true boundaries of sustainability can be determined in addition to the techno-economic evaluation of RE. The integration of metallurgical reactor technology and systems digitally, not only on one site but linking different sites globally via hardware, is the basis for describing CE systems as dynamic feedback control loops, i.e., the m-IoT. It is the linkage of the global carrier metallurgical processing system infrastructure that maximizes the recovery of all minor and technology elements in its associated refining metallurgical infrastructure. This course will illustrate some of these concepts with hands-on training.

More information about the programme can be found on

PERIOD:                 17-20/07/2017

LOCATION:           MTC 00.12 Leuven, Belgium

COURSE LEADER Prof. Markus Reuter

We offer scholarships to a maximum of 20 selected students. Online application till May 17:

Call for papers BR2018 Conference (Athens, 2018)

It is with great pleasure that SIM² KU Leuven and ETN REDMUD can announce the 2nd Bauxite Residue Valorisation and Best Practices conference – BR2018. The conference will be held from 7-10 May, 2018 in Athens, Greece. Stimulated by the success of the Bauxite Residue Valorisation and Best Practices conference, in 2015, and under the framework of EU H2020 MSCA ETN REDMUD project, we are delighted to invite academia and industry from around the world for an open dialogue, under one roof to discuss the latest innovations as well as develop possible strategies and new collaborations for a more sustainable way of using our resources.

Important dates

  • Abstract submission start date: 01.06.2017
  • Abstract submission deadline: 01.09.2017
  • Notification of acceptance for oral or poster presentation: 01.11.2017
  • Full paper submission deadline: 10.01.2018
  • Final program: 20.03.2018

Abstract submission

All interested participants are invited to submit paper(s) to be featured at the event. All submitted abstracts (no more than 25 lines) will undergo a full review with accepted ones invited for the final mode of presentation either in oral or poster format. Poster presenters can also deliver a short oral presentation (3-5 minutes) about their posters to the auditorium audience during an Intensified Poster Presentation Session.

Conference themes

The conference aspires to cover the whole chain of bauxite residue, from production to applications. In detail, the themes as structured in the program are:

  • From bauxite to a modified bauxite residue: additions and process modifications leading to a more attractive bauxite residue for downstream use
  • Neutralisation, revegetation and beyond: from actions to reduce alkalinity all the way to restoration of fauna and flora in former disposal sites
  • Recovery of Fe, Al, Ti: being the metals with the highest concentration in bauxite residue, the session will cover processes to recover them
  • Recovery of minor elements and REE: focus is now placed on minor metals and REE that can have a substantial impact on the economic viability of the processes
  • Cement, concrete and inorganic polymers: with production volumes in the range of billion metric tons annually, these materials can incorporate substantial volumes
  • Ceramics: from clay based ceramics to more sophisticated ceramics with engineered properties
  • Other novel applications: catalysis, polymer composites, adsorbents and many more applications that go beyond the usual paths while offering new possibilities


Athens, a sprawling city established among seven historic hills and surrounded by remarkable mountains, is the capital and largest city of Greece. Inhabited for more than 3,000 years, it presents a beautiful blend of historical and modern features. More info


Aegli Zappiou’s location could not be more ideal for such a conference. Located in the heart of the city of Athens, in the Zappeio Gardens and next to the Zappeion Megaron (the first building designed to serve the needs of the Olympic Games), Aegli Zappiou multiplex offers state-of-the-art infrastructure in a unique and charming setting.

Visit our BR2018 website


New ELFM animation video: not just another brick

In collaboration with Storyrunner the ETN NEW-MINE team has just launched its new animation video on Enhanced Landfill Mining. The film was made to disseminate the ELFM topic to a very wide (non-expert) audience.  Using graphic designs and beautiful animations the film explains the complex ELFM flow sheet: from the mining of the landfilled Municipal Solid Waste until the  conversion into recyclables and high-added value outputs such as hydrogen (for fuel cells) and plasmarock-based inorganic polymer cement. Using the motto “not just another brick… in the wall”, the film highlights that ELFM leads to a radical breakthrough in both waste management and the way we can build the (green) houses of the future. As was the case in the previous, award-wining ETN DEMETER video, the NEW-MINE film is presented by one of the Early Stage Researchers in the NEW-MINE project. For “not just another brick” Giovanna Sauve (KU Leuven) is our star presenter. (ptj/27-4-2017)


Watch the ETN NEW-MINE “not just another brick” film here

Other (animation) videos about ELFM:

NEW_MINE_LOGO_2 slider_fAbout ETN NEW-MINE. NEW-MINE is the EU (Horizon 2020) Training Network for Resource Recovery Through Enhanced Landfill Mining. NEW-MINE is one the three running EU-funded projects of the European Enhanced Landfill Mining Consortium (EURELCO). NEW-MINE trains 15 early-stage researchers (ESRs) in all aspects of landfill mining, in terms of both technological innovation and multi-criteria assessments. The technological innovation follows a value-chain approach, from advanced landfill exploration, mechanical processing, plasma/solar/hybrid thermochemical conversion and upcycling, while the multi-criteria assessment methods allow to compare combined resource-recovery/remediation ELFM methods with the “Do-Nothing”, “Classic remediation” and “Classic landfill mining with (co-)incineration” scenarios. By training the ESRs in scientific, technical and soft skills, they become highly sought-after scientists and engineers for the rapidly emerging landfill-mining and broader raw-materials industries of Europe.

About Storyrunner. Storyrunner has been creating fascinating documentaries for years for the Flemish public broadcasting channel Canvas as well as short films for exhibitions and research institutions including the KU Leuven and OVAM (the Public Waste Agency of Flanders). Storyrunner is no stranger to awards. The Belgian Federal Council for Sustainable Development (Federale Raad voor Duurzame Ontwikkeling, FRDO) selected our productions “Alles kan schoner” (2014) and “Duurzaam duurt het langst” (2016) for the prestigious FRDO Press Award. “De Macht van het Minuscule” received the top ratings from Canvas viewers. THE “DEMETER” (2016) VIDEO IS HIGHLIGHTED AS BEST PRACTICE BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (Marie Curie Funding and Horizon 2020).

Will EU produce rare earths from its own mines?

In 2013 the EU Horizon FP7 EURARE project was initiated with as goal to develop sustainable exploitation schemes for Europe’s rare-earth ore deposits. Recently, an overview article was published in the Johnson Matthey Technology Review, which provides an update of the achieved results.


Europe’s rare earth deposits

Numerous European industries are heavily dependent on imported rare earth element (REE) raw materials. This has created a need for the European Union (EU) to ensure a sustainable supply of REE minerals, as well as develop from the ground up the currently non-existent European REE extraction and processing industry. In order to support this, the European Commission, through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) scheme, funded the EURARE project which runs from 1st January 2013 to 31st December 2017. Through the EURARE project, selected European REE deposits have been researched and in certain cases identified resources were successfully processed for REE production. Several REE deposits across Europe have been the focus of detailed geological field and laboratory work. Mineral concentrates obtained from the Norra Kärr deposit in Sweden, the Kringlerne deposit in Greenland and the Kvanefjeld deposit in Greenland, Rødberg ore from Norway and bauxite residue from Greece were tested from laboratory to pilot scale by means of conventional and innovative metallurgical processing. The novel technologies developed provide efficiency and selectivity in various steps of the metallurgical processing, from ore beneficiation to metal production. A road map for sustainable REE production in Europe is now being developed, which includes an evaluation of the environmental benefits and risks of the EURARE technologies.


Key date paper and authors

  • Full reference: Balomenos, P. Davris, E. Deady, J. Yang, D. Panias, B. Friedrich, K. Binnemans, G. Seisenbaeva, C. Dittrich, P. Kalvig, I. Paspaliaris, The EURARE Project: Development of a Sustainable Exploitation Scheme for Europe’s Rare Earth Ore Deposits, Johnson Matthey Technology Review, 61, 142–153 (2017) – Download here.


Apple to develop iPhone with recycled content

An amazing news item was launched by Apple… The smartphone company has announced that it wants to develop a new iPhone type based on recycled content only. Read the article below for the full story.

Text: Zoë Schlanger [First appeared on:]

Apple just announced that it plans to stop relying on mined rare earth minerals and metals to make their products, and instead use only recycled sources.

Mines where rare earth mineral are extracted are often sites of exploitation, where workers, some children, are exposed to extremely toxic substances and dangerous working conditions for scant pay. The effluent from the mines poisons soil and groundwater supplies and wreaks environmental devastation, too. Virtually all smartphone companies—as well as manufacturers of a long list of other tech products—rely on the rare-earth supply chain to make their products.

Apple wants to stop. It just isn’t sure how to yet. “Can we one day stop mining the Earth altogether? It sounds crazy, but we’re working on it,” the company wrote in its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report published Wednesday. Vice News called the move unprecedented for the tech industry, and spoke to Lisa Jackson, the former administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency who now heads environment initiatives for Apple.

“We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it,” Jackson told Vice News. She hopes the announcement will send a message to mining companies that Apple is looking for recycled materials—perhaps prompting some of them to pivot their focus. “Who knows more about recovering metals than people who mine them?” she said. “So some of the same smart people who do that, if they think there is a market for their services on the other side might get involved.” Notably, Jackson also said that Apple is not exploring ways to elongate the lifespan of its products—like its iPhones, which the company says work for three years—or ways to make them more repairable as a means of conserving materials or reducing e-waste. “I think a product that lasts is really important, and a lot of people buy Apple products because they know they do last,” Jackson said.