Special Issue "Sustainable Utilization of Metals - Processing, Recovery and Recycling"

A special issue of Metals (ISSN 2075-4701).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Bernd Friedrich
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
IME Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling Department, RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany
Interests: process technology; metals; recycling; purification; alloying; WEEE; spent batteries; critical materials; circular economy
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The high demand on advanced metallic materials raises the need for an extensive recycling of metals and a more sustainable use of raw materials. Advanced materials are crucial for technological applications, coexisting with an increasing scarcity of natural resources. This Special Issue, "Sustainable Utilization of Metals - Processing, Recovery and Recycling", is dedicated to the latest scientific achievements in efficient production of metals, purposing a sustainable resource use.

The idea of a circular economy is the point of origin for contributions, aiming on the recirculation of metal-rich waste streams—such as Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), multi-metal alloys and composite materials—back into metal production. This topic goes along with pursuing the holistic use of input materials, resulting in the avoidance of waste by-products. In order to minimize material losses and energy consumption, this issue explores concepts for the optimization concerning the interface between mechanical and thermal pre-treatment and metallurgical processes.

Furthermore, the direct re-use of complex alloys and composite materials without splitting them up into their single constituents is taken into account.

Papers in this issue are also engaged with the question, how the properties of indispensable advanced materials and alloys can be preserved by a more responsible input or even avoidance of particular constituents. In this regard, new approaches in material design, structural engineering and substitution are provided.

Considering both principal aspects—circular economy and material design—the recovery and the use of minor metals play an essential role, since their importance for technological applications often goes along with a lack of supply on the world market. Additionally, their ignoble character, as well as their low concentration in recycling materials cause a low recycling rate of these metals, awarding them the status of “critical metals”.

Prof. Dr. Bernd Friedrich
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • recycling
  • circular economy
  • zero waste
  • material design and substitution
  • critical metals

Published Papers (28 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Sustainable Utilization of Metals-Processing, Recovery and Recycling
Metals 2019, 9(7), 769; https://doi.org/10.3390/met9070769 - 10 Jul 2019
Abstract
Our modern everyday life and thus our technical progress is based on a variety of metals [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle
Characterization and Feasibility Studies on Complete Recovery of Rare Earths from Glass Polishing Waste
Metals 2019, 9(3), 278; https://doi.org/10.3390/met9030278 - 28 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
One of the main applications of ceria (CeO2) is its use in glass polishing. About 16,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides, which is about 10% of total rare earth production, are used for polishing applications. The waste generated in glass polishing [...] Read more.
One of the main applications of ceria (CeO2) is its use in glass polishing. About 16,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides, which is about 10% of total rare earth production, are used for polishing applications. The waste generated in glass polishing contains rare earths, along with other impurities. In this study, two different glass polishing waste samples were characterized and two different processes were proposed for the complete recovery of rare earths from polishing waste, i.e., an acid-based process and an alkali-based process. The polishing waste samples were characterized with inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA) and particle size analysis. Chemical analysis showed that sample A (CeO2-rich waste from plate glass polishing) contained a high amount of impurities compared to sample B (CeO2-rich waste from mirror polishing). XRD analysis showed that sample B contained CeO2, LaO0.65F1.7 and LaPO4 compounds, whereas sample A contained CaCO3 in addition to rare earth compounds. SEM-EDX analysis showed the presence of alumino-silicates in sample A. Leaching experiments were carried out at 75 °C at different acid concentrations for the recovery of rare earths from polishing waste samples. The leaching results showed that it is difficult to dissolve rare earths completely in acid solutions due to the presence of fluorides and phosphates. Hence, undissolved rare earths in the leach residue were further recovered by an alkali treatment with NaOH. In another approach, polishing waste samples were directly treated with NaOH at 500 °C. After alkali treatment followed by water leaching, rare earths can be completely dissolved during acid leaching. Rare earths from polishing waste can be recovered completely by both the acid-based process and the alkali-based process. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Kinetic Investigation of Silver Recycling by Leaching from Mechanical Pre-Treated Oxygen-Depolarized Cathodes Containing PTFE and Nickel
Metals 2019, 9(2), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/met9020187 - 05 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper focuses on the recycling of silver from spent oxygen-depolarized cathodes through an innovative combination of pre-treatment methods and leaching. A silver- and polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE)-rich fraction was produced by cryogenic milling, screening, and magnetic separation. In order to understand the kinetic leaching [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the recycling of silver from spent oxygen-depolarized cathodes through an innovative combination of pre-treatment methods and leaching. A silver- and polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE)-rich fraction was produced by cryogenic milling, screening, and magnetic separation. In order to understand the kinetic leaching mechanism, the silver-rich fraction was leached by different concentrations of nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide. Results showed that nickel influences the silver leaching. This leads to complex reaction systems, which cannot be described by the Arrhenius law. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Thermochemical Modelling and Experimental Validation of In Situ Indium Volatilization by Released Halides during Pyrolysis of Smartphone Displays
Metals 2018, 8(12), 1040; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8121040 - 08 Dec 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
The present study focuses on the pyrolysis of discarded smartphone displays in order to investigate if a halogenation and volatilization of indium is possible without a supplementary halogenation agent. After the conduction of several pyrolysis experiments it was found that the indium evaporation [...] Read more.
The present study focuses on the pyrolysis of discarded smartphone displays in order to investigate if a halogenation and volatilization of indium is possible without a supplementary halogenation agent. After the conduction of several pyrolysis experiments it was found that the indium evaporation is highly temperature-dependent. At temperatures of 750 °C or higher the indium concentration in the pyrolysis residue was pushed below the detection limit of 20 ppm, which proved that a complete indium volatilization by using only the halides originating from the plastic fraction of the displays is possible. A continuous analysis of the pyrolysis gas via FTIR showed that the amounts of HBr, HCl and CO increase strongly at elevated temperatures. The subsequent thermodynamic consideration by means of FactSage confirmed the synergetic effect of CO on the halogenation of indium oxide. Furthermore, HBr is predicted to be a stronger halogenation agent compared to HCl. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cavitation-Dispersion Method for Copper Cementation from Wastewater by Iron Powder
Metals 2018, 8(11), 920; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8110920 - 08 Nov 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
The circular economy for sustainable economic deployment is strongly based on the re-use of secondary products and waste utilization. In the present study, a new effective cementation method for recovering valuable metallic copper from industrial wastewater using Fe0 powders is reported. A [...] Read more.
The circular economy for sustainable economic deployment is strongly based on the re-use of secondary products and waste utilization. In the present study, a new effective cementation method for recovering valuable metallic copper from industrial wastewater using Fe0 powders is reported. A high-speed mixer-disperser (HSMD) capable of providing a cavitation effect was used for the rapid intake, dispersion, and mixing of Fe0 powder in an acidic wastewater solution (pH ≈ 2.9) containing copper ions mainly in the form of CuSO4. Three iron powders/particles were tested as the cementation agent: particles collected from industrial dust filters (CMS), water-atomized iron-based powder AHC100.29, and sponge-iron powder NC100.24. The effects of mixing regimes and related mixing conditions on the effectiveness of the Cu cementation process were evaluated by comparison between the HSMD and a laboratory paddle mixer. It was observed that the use of cavitation provided more efficient copper removal during the copper cementation process in comparison to the standard experiments with the propeller mixer. Under the cavitation regime, about 90% of copper was cemented in the first five minutes and the final copper removal of 95% was achieved using all three Fe0 powders after seven minutes of cementation. In comparison, only around 55% of copper was cemented in the first seven minutes of cementation using the traditional mixing method. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Behavior of Waste Printed Circuit Board (WPCB) Materials in the Copper Matte Smelting Process
Metals 2018, 8(11), 887; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8110887 - 31 Oct 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
The amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in the world has grown rapidly during recent decades, and with the depletion of primary ores, there is urgent need for industries to study new sources for metals. Waste printed circuit boards (WPCB) are [...] Read more.
The amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in the world has grown rapidly during recent decades, and with the depletion of primary ores, there is urgent need for industries to study new sources for metals. Waste printed circuit boards (WPCB) are a part of WEEE, which have a higher concentration of copper and precious metals when compared to primary ore sources. PCB materials can be processed using pyrometallurgical routes, and some industrial processes, such as copper flash smelting, have utilized this type of waste in limited amounts for years. For the purpose of recycling these materials through smelting processes, this work studied the behavior of WPCB scrap when dropped on top of molten slag. A series of experiments was carried out during this research at a temperature of 1350 °C, in an inert atmosphere with different melting times. The time required for complete melting of the PCB pieces was 2–5 min, after which molten alloy droplets containing Cu, Pb, Sn, Ni, Au, and Ag formed and started descending toward the bottom of the crucible. The ceramic fraction of the PCB material mixed with slag and the polymer fraction was pyrolyzed during the high-temperature experiments. The results give an understanding of PCB melting behavior and their use as a part of the smelting furnace feed mixture. However, more research is needed to fully understand how the different elements affect the process as the amount of PCB in the feed increases. The physical behavior and distribution of PCB materials in fayalite slag during the smelting process are outlined, and the results of this work form a basis for future studies about the chemical reaction behavior and kinetics when PCB materials are introduced into the copper smelting process. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Recycling Decisions in 2020, 2030, and 2040—When Can Substantial NdFeB Extraction be Expected in the EU?
Metals 2018, 8(11), 867; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8110867 - 24 Oct 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
In recent years, China’s dominant role in the rare earth market and the associated impacts have strengthened the interest in the recovery of rare earth elements (REE) from secondary resources. Therefore, numerous research activities have been initiated aiming at the recovery of REEs [...] Read more.
In recent years, China’s dominant role in the rare earth market and the associated impacts have strengthened the interest in the recovery of rare earth elements (REE) from secondary resources. Therefore, numerous research activities have been initiated aiming at the recovery of REEs from different types of waste streams, which includes, inter alia, neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets. Although several research projects have successfully been completed, most experts do not expect an industrial implementation in Europe within the next years. This article analyses the reasons for this situation, addressing the availability of sufficient amounts of NdFeB wastes, the technology readiness level of the developed processes in Europe, as well as the economic aspects. Based on these analyses, an estimation of a realistic timeframe for the industrial implementation of NdFeB recycling in Europe is deduced and critically discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Scandium and Titanium Recovery from Bauxite Residue by Direct Leaching with a Brønsted Acidic Ionic Liquid
Metals 2018, 8(10), 834; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8100834 - 17 Oct 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
In this study, bauxite residue was directly leached using the Brønsted acidic ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium hydrogensulfate. Stirring rate, retention time, temperature, and pulp density have been studied in detail as the parameters that affect the leaching process. Their optimized combination has shown high [...] Read more.
In this study, bauxite residue was directly leached using the Brønsted acidic ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium hydrogensulfate. Stirring rate, retention time, temperature, and pulp density have been studied in detail as the parameters that affect the leaching process. Their optimized combination has shown high recovery yields of Sc, nearly 80%, and Ti (90%), almost total dissolution of Fe, while Al and Na were partially extracted in the range of 30–40%. Si and rare earth element (REEs) dissolutions were found to be negligible, whereas Ca was dissolved and reprecipitated as CaSO4. The solid residue after leaching was fully characterized, providing explanations for the destiny of REEs that remain undissolved during the leaching process. The solid residue produced after dissolution can be further treated to extract REEs, while the leachate can be subjected to metal recovery processes (i.e., liquid–liquid extraction) to extract metals and regenerate ionic liquid. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Study of Nd Electrodeposition from the Aprotic Organic Solvent Dimethyl Sulfoxide
Metals 2018, 8(10), 803; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8100803 - 08 Oct 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
The use of organic solvents in an electrolytic system for neodymium electrorecovery by electrolysis at low temperatures is studied in the current work. More specifically, an alternative route, that of the system of DMSO (Dimethyl sulfoxide) with dissolved NdCl3 has been researched [...] Read more.
The use of organic solvents in an electrolytic system for neodymium electrorecovery by electrolysis at low temperatures is studied in the current work. More specifically, an alternative route, that of the system of DMSO (Dimethyl sulfoxide) with dissolved NdCl3 has been researched and has given promising results. The study of this electrolytic system has been divided into two stages. Firstly, the characteristics of the electrolyte, the dissolution of NdCl3 in DMSO, the conductivity and the viscosity of NdCl3 solutions in DMSO at various temperatures, and the Nd complexation in the solution were studied and secondly, the electrolysis parameters and their impact on the Nd electrodeposition process were evaluated. Finally, the deposits were submitted to SEM-EDS (Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy) analysis and metallic Nd was confirmed to be electrodeposited by X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) spectroscopy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Purification of Aluminium Cast Alloy Melts through Precipitation of Fe-Containing Intermetallic Compounds
Metals 2018, 8(10), 796; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8100796 - 04 Oct 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Aluminium secondary materials are often contaminated by impurities such as iron. As the alloy properties are affected by impurities, it is necessary to refine aluminium melts. The formation of Fe intermetallics in aluminium melts can be used to develop a purification technology based [...] Read more.
Aluminium secondary materials are often contaminated by impurities such as iron. As the alloy properties are affected by impurities, it is necessary to refine aluminium melts. The formation of Fe intermetallics in aluminium melts can be used to develop a purification technology based on the removal of intermetallic compounds. In this study, the temperature range for effective separation of intermetallics was determined in an industrial-relevant Al–Si–Fe–Mn system with 6 to 10 Si wt. %, 0.5 to 2.0 Fe wt. %, and 0 to 2.0 Mn wt. %. Based on DTA (Differential Thermal Analysis) and SEM (scanning electron microscope) results and following the rules of phase boundary drawing, isopleths were drawn. This method allows to derive the temperature ranges of intermetallic phase stability and can be applied for the assessment of melt-refining parameters. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Scandium Recovery from an Ammonium Fluoride Strip Liquor by Anti-Solvent Crystallization
Metals 2018, 8(10), 767; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8100767 - 26 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
In this study, the crystallization of scandium from ammonium fluoride strip liquor, obtained by solvent extraction, was investigated using an anti-solvent crystallization technique. Acetone, ethanol, methanol and isopropanol were added individually to the strip liquor as the anti-solvent and scandium was precipitated and [...] Read more.
In this study, the crystallization of scandium from ammonium fluoride strip liquor, obtained by solvent extraction, was investigated using an anti-solvent crystallization technique. Acetone, ethanol, methanol and isopropanol were added individually to the strip liquor as the anti-solvent and scandium was precipitated and obtained in the form of (NH4)3ScF6 crystals. The results show that scandium can be effectively crystallized from the strip liquor to obtain an intermediate, marketable scandium product. Yields greater than 98% were obtained using an anti-solvent to strip liquor volumetric ratio of 0.8. Acetone had the least performance at lower anti-solvent to strip liquor volumetric ratios, possibly due to its limited H bonding capability with water molecules when compared to alcohols. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Holistic and Experimentally-Based View on Recycling of Off-Gas Dust within the Integrated Steel Plant
Metals 2018, 8(10), 760; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8100760 - 25 Sep 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Ore-based ironmaking generates a variety of residues, including slags and fines such as dust and sludges. Recycling of these residues within the integrated steel plant or in other applications is essential from a raw-material efficiency perspective. The main recycling route of off-gas dust [...] Read more.
Ore-based ironmaking generates a variety of residues, including slags and fines such as dust and sludges. Recycling of these residues within the integrated steel plant or in other applications is essential from a raw-material efficiency perspective. The main recycling route of off-gas dust is to the blast furnace (BF) via sinter, cold-bonded briquettes and tuyere injection. However, solely relying on the BF for recycling implicates that certain residues cannot be recycled in order to avoid build-up of unwanted elements, such as zinc. By introducing a holistic view on recycling where recycling via other process routes, such as the desulfurization (deS) station and the basic oxygen furnace (BOF), landfilling can be avoided. In the present study, process integration analyses were utilized to determine the most efficient recycling routes for off-gas dust that are currently not recycled within the integrated steel plants of Sweden. The feasibility of recycling was studied in experiments conducted in laboratory, pilot, and full-scale trials in the BF, deS station, and BOF. The process integration analyses suggested that recycling to the BF should be maximized before considering the deS station and BOF. The experiments indicated that the amount of residue that are not recycled could be minimized. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Conditioning of Spent Stripping Solution for the Recovery of Metals
Metals 2018, 8(10), 757; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8100757 - 25 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
The objective of this study was to develop an eco-friendly method for processing spent stripping solutions, which originate from the wet chemical decoating of metal cutting tools, to generate a product that represents a useful basis for the recovery of valuable components. These [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to develop an eco-friendly method for processing spent stripping solutions, which originate from the wet chemical decoating of metal cutting tools, to generate a product that represents a useful basis for the recovery of valuable components. These liquids contain, for example, considerable quantities of Ti, Co, and W. Hence, the treatment of these solutions, especially because of the dissolved Co, is essential. The process is based on the precipitation of an insoluble compound with the use of a Ca source. The thermal treatment of the precipitate enables its reuse in the procedure, which leads to a minimum amount of solid process waste. The suggested method, which can be readily controlled by pH adjustment, results in a reduction of hazardous substances and an enrichment of valuable compounds in the solid product. Therefore, this process represents an effective preliminary step in the recovery of concentrated metals, such as Ti. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Thermal Processing of Jarosite Leach Residue for a Safe Disposable Slag and Valuable Metals Recovery
Metals 2018, 8(10), 744; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8100744 - 21 Sep 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
In electrolytic production of zinc, the iron levels in the solutions are controlled by precipitation of jarosite or goethite. These precipitates also co-precipitate unrecovered valuable metals (Zn, Pb, Cu, Ag) as well as elements of concern (As, Cd, Hg). After stabilization, the residues [...] Read more.
In electrolytic production of zinc, the iron levels in the solutions are controlled by precipitation of jarosite or goethite. These precipitates also co-precipitate unrecovered valuable metals (Zn, Pb, Cu, Ag) as well as elements of concern (As, Cd, Hg). After stabilization, the residues are traditionally landfilled. This work investigates pyrometallurgical treatment of jarosite residue to convert the material into reusable clean slag and to recover the valuable metals within the residue. The pyrometallurgical treatment is divided into two functional steps. First, the material is melted in an oxidizing atmosphere, after which the oxide melt is reduced to produce an inert, clean slag. Then, a liquid metal or speiss phase collects the valuable metals, such as silver. The aim was to examine the optimal process conditions for reaching the target values for remaining metals in the slag; Pb < 0.03 wt %, Zn < 1 wt %. As a conclusion, the limiting factor in sulfur, lead, and zinc removal is the contact between the oxidizing or reducing gas and the molten sample. The mass transfer and volatile metals removal were significantly improved with a gas lance installation. The improved gas-liquid interaction enabled the first steps of gas flow rate optimization and ensured the sufficiently low end-concentrations of the aforementioned elements. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Removal of Tramp Elements within 7075 Alloy by Super-Gravity Aided Rheorefining Method
Metals 2018, 8(9), 701; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8090701 - 06 Sep 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
An investigation was made on the super-gravity aided rheorefining process of recycled 7075 aluminum alloy in order to remove tramp elements. The separation temperatures in this study were selected as 609 °C, 617 °C and 625 °C. And the gravity coefficients were set [...] Read more.
An investigation was made on the super-gravity aided rheorefining process of recycled 7075 aluminum alloy in order to remove tramp elements. The separation temperatures in this study were selected as 609 °C, 617 °C and 625 °C. And the gravity coefficients were set as 400 G, 700 G, 1000 G. The finely distributed impurity inclusions will aggregate to the grain boundaries of Al-enriched phase during heat treatment. In the field of super-gravity, the liquid phase composed of tramp elements Zn, Cu, Mg et al. will flow through the gaps between solid Al-enriched grains and form into filtrate. Both the weight of filtrate and removal ratio of tramp element improved with the increase of gravity coefficient. The total removal ratio of tramp element decreased with the fall of temperature due to the flowability deterioration of liquid phase. The time for effective separation of liquid/solid phases with super-gravity can be restricted within 1 min. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Degradation Mechanism of Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum (NCA) Cathode Material from Spent Lithium-Ion Batteries in Microwave-Assisted Pyrolysis
Metals 2018, 8(8), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8080565 - 24 Jul 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Recycling of Li-Ion Batteries (LIBs) is still a topic of scientific interest. Commonly, spent LIBs are pretreated by mechanical and/or thermal processing. Valuable elements are then recycled via pyrometallurgy and/or hydrometallurgy. Among the thermal treatments, pyrolysis is the most commonly used pre-treatment process. [...] Read more.
Recycling of Li-Ion Batteries (LIBs) is still a topic of scientific interest. Commonly, spent LIBs are pretreated by mechanical and/or thermal processing. Valuable elements are then recycled via pyrometallurgy and/or hydrometallurgy. Among the thermal treatments, pyrolysis is the most commonly used pre-treatment process. This work compares the treatment of typical cathode nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) material by conventional pyrolysis, and by a microwave assisted pyrolysis. In the conventional route, the heating is provided indirectly, while via microwave the heating is absorbed by the microwaves, according to the materials properties. The comparison is done with help of a detailed characterization of solid as well as the gaseous products during and after the thermal treatment. The results indicated at least three common stages in the degradation: Dehydration and evaporation of electrolyte solvents (EC) and two degradation periods of EC driven by combustion and reforming reactions. In addition, microwave assisted pyrolysis promotes catalytic steam and dry reforming reactions, leading to the strong formation of H2 and CO. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Zinc Recovery from Steelmaking Dust by Hydrometallurgical Methods
Metals 2018, 8(7), 547; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8070547 - 18 Jul 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Hydrometallurgical recovery of zinc from electric arc furnace dust was investigated on a laboratory scale, using aqueous sodium hydroxide solution as a leaching agent. Special attention was paid to the effect of NaOH concentration, temperature and liquid/solid phase ratio on the zinc leachability. [...] Read more.
Hydrometallurgical recovery of zinc from electric arc furnace dust was investigated on a laboratory scale, using aqueous sodium hydroxide solution as a leaching agent. Special attention was paid to the effect of NaOH concentration, temperature and liquid/solid phase ratio on the zinc leachability. It was found that all tested factors increased the leachability, with the maximum efficiency of 88% obtained in a 6 M NaOH solution at a temperature of 80 °C and the liquid/solid phase ratio of 40. The test results confirmed the high selectivity of the zinc leaching agent. In spite of this, complete recovery of zinc from steelmaking dust has proved to be very difficult due to the occurrence of this element in the form of stable and sparingly soluble ZnFe2O4 ferrite. Purification of the solution by cementation and electrolysis gave zinc of purity 99.88% in powder form. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Hydrometallurgical Process for Selective Metals Recovery from Waste-Printed Circuit Boards
Metals 2018, 8(6), 441; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8060441 - 11 Jun 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
This paper presents an experimentally-proved hydrometallurgical process for selective metals recovery from the waste-printed circuit boards (WPCBs) using a combination of conventional and time-saving methods: leaching, cementation, precipitation, reduction and electrowinning. According to the results obtained in the laboratory tests, 92.4% Cu, 98.5% [...] Read more.
This paper presents an experimentally-proved hydrometallurgical process for selective metals recovery from the waste-printed circuit boards (WPCBs) using a combination of conventional and time-saving methods: leaching, cementation, precipitation, reduction and electrowinning. According to the results obtained in the laboratory tests, 92.4% Cu, 98.5% Pb, 96.8% Ag and over 99% Au could be selectively leached and recovered using mineral acids: sulfuric, nitric and aqua regia. Problematic tin recovery was addressed with comprehensive theoretical and experimental work, so 55.4% of Sn could be recovered through the novel physical method, which consists of two-step phase separation. Based on the results, an integral hydrometallurgical route for selective base and precious metals recovery though consecutive steps, (i) Cu, (ii) Sn, (iii) Pb and Ag, and (iv) Au, was developed. The route was tested at scaled-up laboratory level, confirming feasibility of the process and efficiencies of metals recovery. According to the obtained results, the proposed hydrometallurgical route represents an innovative and promising method for selective metals recovery from WPCBs, particularly applicable in small scale hydrometallurgical environments, focused on medium and high grade WPCBs recycling. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Scrap Collection per Industry Sector and the Circulation Times of Steel in the U.S. between 1900 and 2016, Calculated Based on the Volume Correlation Model
Metals 2018, 8(5), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8050338 - 10 May 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
On the basis of the Volume Correlation Model (VCM) as well as data on steel consumption and scrap collection per industry sector (construction, automotive, industrial goods, and consumer goods), it was possible to estimate service lifetimes of steel in the United States between [...] Read more.
On the basis of the Volume Correlation Model (VCM) as well as data on steel consumption and scrap collection per industry sector (construction, automotive, industrial goods, and consumer goods), it was possible to estimate service lifetimes of steel in the United States between 1900 and 2016. Input data on scrap collection per industry sector was based on a scrap survey conducted by the World Steel Association for a static year in 2014 in the United States. The lifetimes of steel calculated with the VCM method were within the range of previously reported measured lifetimes of products and applications for all industry sectors. Scrapped (and apparent) lifetimes of steel compared with measured lifetimes were calculated to be as follows: a scrapped lifetime of 29 years for the construction sector (apparent lifetime: 52 years) compared with 44 years measured in 2014. Industrial goods: 16 (27) years compared with 19 years measured in 2010. Consumer goods: 12 (14) years compared with 13 years measured in 2014. Automotive sector: 14 (19) years compared with 17 years measured in 2011. Results show that the VCM can estimate reasonable values of scrap collection and availability per industry sector over time. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Thermodynamic Considerations for a Pyrometallurgical Extraction of Indium and Silver from a Jarosite Residue
Metals 2018, 8(5), 335; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8050335 - 09 May 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Indium and silver are technologically important, critical metals, and in the majority of cases, they are extracted as a by-product of another carrier metal. The importance of indium has seen recent growth, and for technological reasons, these metals can be found in industrial [...] Read more.
Indium and silver are technologically important, critical metals, and in the majority of cases, they are extracted as a by-product of another carrier metal. The importance of indium has seen recent growth, and for technological reasons, these metals can be found in industrial residues from primary zinc production, such as the iron precipitate—jarosite. To secure the supply of such metals in Europe, and with the idea of a circular economy and the sustainable use of raw materials, the recycling of such industrial residues is coming into focus. Due to the low value of jarosite, the focus must lie simultaneously on the recovery of valuable metals and the production of high-quality products in order to pursue an economical process. The objective of this article is to give the fundamentals for the development of a successful process to extract the minor elements from roasted jarosite. As such, we use thermodynamic calculations to show the behavior of indium and silver, leading to a recommendation for the required conditions for a successful extraction process. In summary, the formation of chlorine compounds shows high potential to meet the challenge of simultaneously recovering these metals together with zinc at the lowest possible energy input. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Distribution of Selected Trace Elements in the Bayer Process
Metals 2018, 8(5), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8050327 - 08 May 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
The aim of this work was to achieve an understanding of the distribution of selected bauxite trace elements (gallium (Ga), vanadium (V), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), rare earth elements (REEs), scandium (Sc)) in the Bayer process. The assessment was designed as a case [...] Read more.
The aim of this work was to achieve an understanding of the distribution of selected bauxite trace elements (gallium (Ga), vanadium (V), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), rare earth elements (REEs), scandium (Sc)) in the Bayer process. The assessment was designed as a case study in an alumina plant in operation to provide an overview of the trace elements behaviour in an actual industrial setup. A combination of analytical techniques was used, mainly inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and optical emission spectroscopy as well as instrumental neutron activation analysis. It was found that Ga, V and As as well as, to a minor extent, Cr are principally accumulated in Bayer process liquors. In addition, Ga is also fractionated to alumina at the end of the Bayer processing cycle. The rest of these elements pass to bauxite residue. REEs and Sc have the tendency to remain practically unaffected in the solid phases of the Bayer process and, therefore, at least 98% of their mass is transferred to bauxite residue. The interest in such a study originates from the fact that many of these trace constituents of bauxite ore could potentially become valuable by-products of the Bayer process; therefore, the understanding of their behaviour needs to be expanded. In fact, Ga and V are already by-products of the Bayer process, but their distribution patterns have not been provided in the existing open literature. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Recovery of Valuable Metals from Lithium-Ion Batteries NMC Cathode Waste Materials by Hydrometallurgical Methods
Metals 2018, 8(5), 321; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8050321 - 06 May 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
The paper focuses on the improved process of metal recovery from lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cathode waste materials by using hydrometallurgical methods. In the acid leaching step, the essential effects of acidity concentration, H2O2 concentration, [...] Read more.
The paper focuses on the improved process of metal recovery from lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cathode waste materials by using hydrometallurgical methods. In the acid leaching step, the essential effects of acidity concentration, H2O2 concentration, leaching time, liquid-solid mass ratio, and reaction temperature with the leaching percentage were investigated in detail. The cathode material was leached with 2M H2SO4 and 10 vol. % H2O2 at 70 °C and 300 rpm using a liquid-solid mass ratio of 30 mL/g. In order to complete the recovery process, this paper designs the proper separation process to recover valuable metals. The leach liquor in the recovery process uses Cyanex 272 to first extract Co and Mn to the organic phase. Secondly, Co and Mn are separated by using D2EHPA, and a high purity of Co is obtained. Thirdly, Ni is selectively precipitated by using DMG, and Ni is completely formed as a solid complex. Finally, in the chemical precipitation process, the remaining Li in the leach liquor is recovered as Li2CO3 precipitated by saturated Na2CO3, and Co, Mn, and Ni are recovered as hydroxides by NaOH. This hydrometallurgical process may provide an effective separation and recovery of valuable metals from LIBs waste cathode materials. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reduction Characteristics of Carbon-Containing REE–Nb–Fe Ore Pellets
Metals 2018, 8(4), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8040204 - 23 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
To separate and recover the valuable metals from low-grade REE (rare earth elements)–Nb–Fe ore in China, the reduction characteristics of carbon-containing REE–Nb–Fe ore pellets, including mineral phase variation, reduction degree, and reaction kinetics, were observed based on thermogravimetry experiments. The results showed that [...] Read more.
To separate and recover the valuable metals from low-grade REE (rare earth elements)–Nb–Fe ore in China, the reduction characteristics of carbon-containing REE–Nb–Fe ore pellets, including mineral phase variation, reduction degree, and reaction kinetics, were observed based on thermogravimetry experiments. The results showed that the reduction and separation efficiency of valuable metals in the carbon-containing pellets were superior to the ones in the previous non-compact mixture. After the reduction roasting of the pellets at 1100 °C and a subsequent magnetic separation, the iron powder with a grade of 91.7 wt % was separated, and in magnetic separation tailings the grades of Nb2O5 and (REE)O were beneficiated to approximately twice the grades in the REE–Nb–Fe ore. The reaction rate of the reduction of the carbon-containing pellets was jointly controlled by the carbon gasification reaction and the diffusion of CO in the product layer with an activation energy of 139.26–152.40 kJ·mol−1. Corresponding measures were proposed to further improve the kinetics condition. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Low-Waste Recycling of Spent CuO-ZnO-Al2O3 Catalysts
Metals 2018, 8(3), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8030177 - 12 Mar 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
CuO-ZnO-Al2O3 catalysts are designed for low-temperature conversion in the process of hydrogen and ammonia synthesis gas production. This paper presents the results of research into the recovery of copper and zinc from spent catalysts using pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical methods. Under [...] Read more.
CuO-ZnO-Al2O3 catalysts are designed for low-temperature conversion in the process of hydrogen and ammonia synthesis gas production. This paper presents the results of research into the recovery of copper and zinc from spent catalysts using pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical methods. Under reducing conditions, at high temperature, having appropriately selected the composition of the slag, more than 66% of the copper can be extracted in metallic form, and about 70% of zinc in the form of ZnO from this material. Hydrometallurgical processing of the catalysts was carried out using two leaching solutions: alkaline and acidic. Almost 62% of the zinc contained in the catalysts was leached to the alkaline solution, and about 98% of the copper was leached to the acidic solution. After the hydrometallurgical treatment of the catalysts, an insoluble residue was also obtained in the form of pure ZnAl2O4. This compound can be reused to produce catalysts, or it can be processed under reducing conditions at high temperature to recover zinc. The recovery of zinc and copper from such a material is consistent with the policy of sustainable development, and helps to reduce the environmental load of stored wastes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Anodic Lodes and Scrapings as a Source of Electrolytic Manganese
Metals 2018, 8(3), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8030162 - 07 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Manganese is an element of interest in metallurgy, especially in ironmaking and steel making, but also in copper and aluminum industries. The depletion of manganese high grade sources and the environmental awareness have led to search for new manganese sources, such as wastes/by-products [...] Read more.
Manganese is an element of interest in metallurgy, especially in ironmaking and steel making, but also in copper and aluminum industries. The depletion of manganese high grade sources and the environmental awareness have led to search for new manganese sources, such as wastes/by-products of other metallurgies. In this way, we propose the recovery of manganese from anodic lodes and scrapings of the zinc electrolysis process because of their high Mn content (>30%). The proposed process is based on a mixed leaching: a lixiviation-neutralization at low temperature (50 °C, reached due to the exothermic reactions involved in the process) and a lixiviation with sulfuric acid at high temperature (150–200 °C, in heated reactor). The obtained solution after the combined process is mainly composed by manganese sulphate. This solution is then neutralized with CaO (or manganese carbonate) as a first purification stage, removing H2SO4 and those impurities that are easily removable by controlling pH. Then, the purification of nobler elements than manganese is performed by their precipitation as sulphides. The purified solution is sent to electrolysis where electrolytic manganese is obtained (99.9% Mn). The versatility of the proposed process allows for obtaining electrolytic manganese, oxide of manganese (IV), oxide of manganese (II), or manganese sulphate. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Concentration and Separation of Scandium from Ni Laterite Ore Processing Streams
Metals 2017, 7(12), 557; https://doi.org/10.3390/met7120557 - 12 Dec 2017
Cited by 7
Abstract
The presence of a considerable amount of scandium in lateritic nickel-cobalt ores necessitates the investigation of possible processing alternatives to recover scandium as a byproduct during nickel and cobalt production. Therefore, in this study, rather than interfering with the main nickel-cobalt production circuit, [...] Read more.
The presence of a considerable amount of scandium in lateritic nickel-cobalt ores necessitates the investigation of possible processing alternatives to recover scandium as a byproduct during nickel and cobalt production. Therefore, in this study, rather than interfering with the main nickel-cobalt production circuit, the precipitation-separation behavior of scandium during a pH-controlled precipitation process from a synthetically prepared solution was investigated to adopt the Sc recovery circuit into an already existing hydrometallurgical nickel-cobalt hydroxide processing plant. The composition of the synthetic solution was determined according to the hydrometallurgical nickel laterite ore processing streams obtained from a HPAL (high-pressure sulphuric acid leaching) process. In order to selectively precipitate and concentrate scandium with minimum nickel and cobalt co-precipitation, the pH of the solution was adjusted by CaCO3, MgO, Na2CO3, and NaOH. It was found that precipitation with MgO or Na2CO3 is more advantageous to obtain a precipitate containing higher amounts of scandium with minimum mass when compared to the CaCO3 route, which makes further processing more viable. As a result of this study, it is proposed that by a simple pH-controlled precipitation process, scandium can be separated from the nickel and cobalt containing process solutions as a byproduct without affecting the conventional nickel-cobalt hydroxide production. By further processing this scandium-enriched residue by means of leaching, SX (solvent extraction), and precipitation, an intermediate (NH4)2NaScF6 product can be obtained. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Refining Principles and Technical Methodologies to Produce Ultra-Pure Magnesium for High-Tech Applications
Metals 2019, 9(1), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/met9010085 - 15 Jan 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
During the last decade, magnesium-based medical implants have become the focal point of a large number of scientific studies due to their perceived favorable properties. Implants manufactured from magnesium alloys are not only biocompatible and biodegradable, but they are also the answer to [...] Read more.
During the last decade, magnesium-based medical implants have become the focal point of a large number of scientific studies due to their perceived favorable properties. Implants manufactured from magnesium alloys are not only biocompatible and biodegradable, but they are also the answer to problems associated with other materials like stress shielding (Ti alloys) and low mechanical stability (polymers). Magnesium has also been a metal of interest in another field. By offering superior technical and economic features in comparison to lithium, it has received significant attention in recent years as a potential battery anode alternative. Natural abundancy, low cost, environmental friendliness, large volumetric capacity, and enhanced operational safety are among the reasons that magnesium anodes are the next breakthrough in battery development. Unfortunately, commercial production of such implants and primary and secondary cells has been hindered due to magnesium’s low corrosion resistance. Corrosion investigations have shown that this inferior quality is a direct result of the presence of certain impurities in metallic magnesium such as iron, copper, cobalt, and nickel, even at the lowest levels of concentration. Magnesium’s sensitivity to corrosion is an obstacle for its usage not only in biomedical implants and batteries, but also in the automotive/aerospace industries. Therefore, investigations focusing on magnesium refinement with the goal of producing high and ultra-high purity magnesium suitable for such demanding applications are imperative. In this paper, vacuum distillation fundamentals and techniques are thoroughly reviewed as the main refining principles for magnesium. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Recovery of Cerium from Glass Polishing Waste: A Critical Review
Metals 2018, 8(10), 801; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8100801 - 06 Oct 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Ceria is the main component in glass polishing powders due to its special physico-chemical properties. Glass polishing powder loses its polishing ability gradually during usage due to the accumulation of other compounds on the polishing powder or due to changes in the particle [...] Read more.
Ceria is the main component in glass polishing powders due to its special physico-chemical properties. Glass polishing powder loses its polishing ability gradually during usage due to the accumulation of other compounds on the polishing powder or due to changes in the particle size distribution. The recovery of cerium from the glass polishing waste results in the efficient utilization of natural resources. This paper reviews processes for the recovery of rare earths from polishing waste. Glass polishing powder waste can be reused via physical, physico-chemical or chemical processes by removing silica and/or alumina. The removal of silica and/or alumina only improves the life span up to some extent. Therefore, removal of other elements by chemical processes is required to recover a cerium or cerium-rich product. However, cerium leaching from the polishing waste is challenging due to the difficulties associated with the dissolution of ceria. Therefore, high acid concentrations, high temperatures or costly reducing agents are required for cerium dissolution. After leaching, cerium can be extracted from the leach solution by solvent extraction or selective precipitation. The product can be used either in glass polishing again or other high value added applications. Full article
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