The world is moving towards clean, resource-efficient, and sustainable energy. This will not be possible without the availability of critical metals. The metals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, platinum, are essential in batteries, wind and solar energy, fuel cells, and most of important industrial chemical processes. Nowadays we are mainly getting these metals from ores that brings up two large problems: environmental imprint of mining and the supply dependent on political situation. A tiny part of metal supply is coming from recycling today mainly because this technology is energy- and chemical- demanding. The main idea of our project MOFSORBMET is to develop nanomaterials for adsorption-enhanced recovery of critical metals from mining and waste. We aim at decreasing the amount of chemicals and energy currently used in the industrial recovery and recycling processes. Increasing of the recovery and recycling of metals offers an opportunity to boost the share of clean energy technology in the energy sector and secure the supply driven by circular economy. Together with the University of Bergen and the industrial advisor Glencore Nikkelverk, we aim at developing and demonstrating the use of the nanomaterials for recovery and separation of critical metals. These include lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, and platinum group metals among others. The international partners from Spain (BCMaterials), Sweden (Chalmers University of Technology), and Greece (University of Ioannina) will participate in the project. MOFSORBMET targets at the development of current technology to higher readiness level (TRL), (from TRL 2 to TRL 4), demonstrating recovery of at least two critical metals from two different sources with recovery over 90% and purity over 95% in three and a half years of the project duration.
Results achieved so far:
We have been working on extracting metals from Black mass (waste from battery containing electrode materials) using different chemicals including the environmentallly friendly chemicals too. Method and characterisation for Metal leaching from Black masss are established. Potential MOFs systems are developed, their chemical stability in leaching media is evaluated. This first generation stable MOFs are tested for Li-recovery (Master thesis project-1) and Ni and Co reocvery (Master thesis project-2). The Ni, and Co recovery with MOFs is bechmarked against commercially available resin. These theses work will be published, currently we are writting the manuscripts. Simmy Rathod is testing other functionlised MOFs for REE(Rare Earth element) separation.
An international open workshop on the topic "Critical metals recovery and recycling for a clean and sustainable energy future" was organised in June 2022. International speakers both from academia and industry were invited. The workshop was organised in hybrid mode. International speakers from Sweden, UK, Greece, Spain and Canada joined the workshop and presented their work. Local industry partner Nikkel Glencore also attended the workshop and gave a presentation. The workshop include talks on Battery recycling, Catalyst recycling- PGMs (Platinum Group Metals), Separation of rare earth elements, Deep sea mining risk assessments, National Network on hydrometallurgy, MOFs for metal separation, and NORM handling. In total 82 participants (25 in person and 57 online). The workshop has resulted in increased interest in collaboration with UiS. Two large laboratory has approached to set up collaboration (MOU ) and some companies have initiated a plan for collaborative projects.
This project has been the key for UiS joining the national hydrometallurgy network. Now UiS is official member of the network.
Sachin Chavan, Simmy Rathod, Ananya Chari and Sofiia Bercha attended the 8th International Conference on Metal-organic frameworks organised in Dresden Germany. It was the first physical conference on MOFs after the pandemic. It was a great experience for all researchers who just started to work with MOFs.
We have used the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) to characterise the materials prepared for the project.
A low carbon future relies on the share of clean energy technologies (Solar PV, wind, geothermal, hydro battery) in the energy sector. The clean energy technology is mineral intensive and with its growth, demand for critical metals is growing exponentially. Therefore, increasing the recovery and recycling of critical metals offers a double win, securing metal supply for clean energy development and reducing the environmental impact from mining and waste pollution.
The MOFsorbMet project is investigating Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) based technology that has high potential to offer increase metal recovery while reducing the energy and chemicals used for the recovery process. MOFs are crystalline, solid, porous materials build from metal ion or metal-oxo cluster bridged by multi-dentate organic linker forming 3D network structure. Recently, IUPAC has announced MOFs among the top 10 emerging technologies.
The methodology behind the project is realized in 3 interlinked research blocks: MOF development, MOF characterization and MOF testing. These research blocks are supported by 4 technical work packages (WPs):
WP1-Synthesis and functionalization of MOFs,
WP2- Synthesis of functional linkers,
WP3-MOFs Characterization-adsorption site and mechanism
WP4. Testing and demonstration of MOF for critical metal recovery.
The goal of the project is to identify, develop and demonstrate the use of MOFs for the recovery and separation of critical metals. These include lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, rare earth metals (REE) and platinum group metals (PGMs). To our knowledge, this is the first project where the development of MOFs to recover critical metals from leachate produced in different metallurgy (solvo-, hydro- and Bio-metallurgy) processes is undertaken. MOFsorbMET project targets the development of technology from TRL 2 to TRL 4, demonstrating recovery of at least two critical metals from two different sources with recovery over 90% and purity over 95% (O4).