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  • Pilot plants for resource valorisation, substitution of critical raw materials and circular economy

    Facilities (laboratory and pilot plants) for the development of valorisation processes, based on hydrometallurgical, pyrometallurgical, ionometallurgical technologies and their combinations, to offer a solution to waste management problems. These actions are focused on the recovery of the elements with high value that are present in the waste and that can be used either as substitutes of conventional raw materials (metals of high economic value or critical metals, for example), or in the reuse of non-contaminated waste after the treatment of removing impurities. The asset also includes facilities specifically designed for the metallurgical industry for developments related to energy and resource efficiency and towards circular economy concepts such as new furnaces, new heating systems, new processes for the recovery of metals from waste, ores or slags and processes for the energy recovery from industrial waste. The processes can be performed at different levels of scale, from laboratory tests for a preliminary or more basic investigation, to validations of processes at pilot plant level.


    • Electrolysis pilot plant at molten state
    • Hydrmetallurgical treatment plant
    • Metallurgical furnace for the recycling and valorisation of industrial waste
    • Pfaudler reactor:
    • Plasma pilot plant

    Fields of application

    Design and development of materials

    Manufacturing processes

    Materials and processes in Circular Economy


    Characterization of Ionic Liquids and Deep Eutectic Solvents

    • Physico-chemical characterization: Schlenk line, TGA, IR, Mass spectroscopy, DSC, UV-Vis, AAS, ICP-OES, TXRF, SEM/EDS, RAMAN, optical microscopy… • Performance for electrochemical applications:  Potentiostats, RDE  Semi-technical scale electrochemistry: Current rectifiers, anodes, stirred cubets, etc  Automatic pilot-plant for surface treatments  Metal and surface characterization: SEM/EDS, optical microscopy, RAMAN, etc.

    Circular Economy: resource efficient new product and processes

    • Recycling and valorization of industrial waste and raw materials flows. To provide second life to the waste, after treated they can be a new feedstock for original core process and valuable feed product for other process units. Valorisation of industrial waste and residues streams in a near to zero waste circular economy focus • Development of advanced efficient energy systems (hybrid and combined heating systems). • Design, prototyping and validation of new furnaces or process by employing and combining different technologies (plasma, induction, electrolysis, microwave, pyrolysis) for metal recovery from industrial waste. • New metallic alloys, substitution of critical raw materials and use of recovered materials. • Design and validation of new high-performance refractories

    Design and synthesis of Ionic Liquids and Deep Eutectic Solvents

    Synthesis reactions to obtain specific ionic liquids or deep eutectic solvents in reactors with a capacity of 10-20 L.

    Development and improvement of processes for energy production from waste

    Processes development / improvement concerning: • Combustion • Gasification • Pyrolysis • Electricity/compressed air production by means of ORC. For applications such as: • Energy recovery from the organic fraction of waste (plastic, organic sludge…) • Fuels from waste: syngas, liquid fuel, solid recovered fuel… • Industrial waste heat recovery

    Development of processes for recovery of materials

    Improved processes in hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy and ionometallurgy (based on ionic liquids) for the recovery of (for example): • Critical and strategic materials: neodymium, dysprosium, indium, gallium, cobalt, tantalum, etc. • Non-ferrous metals from different flow waste and scrap (electronic, foundry, etc) • Removal of organics (plastics, lacquered) from metals as Al, Cu, Mg, Ti (up to 1mm size). • Metals and materials from metallurgical processes: filter dust, sands, slags, sandblasting. • Complex waste: metals associated to plastics, paper…

    Processes for treatment of waste for safe disposal

    • Improved processes based on plasma technology for thermal treatment of waste • Waste stabilization processes • Verification of the environmental impact of the treated waste For applications such as: • Removal of organic compounds from waste and contaminated soils • Vitrification of waste: fly ashes, asbestos, low level radioactive waste

    Processes for waste reuse

    • Toxicity reduction/removal by thermal desorption, stabilization, low temperature destruction, etc. • Characterization of waste: Chemical analysis, leaching tests, toxicological properties. • Environmental risk analysis for the use of secondary raw materials


    Contact person:
    Maider Garcia de cortazar