Research project

Harvinaisten maametallien talteenotto vaihtoehtoisista raaka-aineista




Project Details

Start date: 01/11/2018

End date: 30/04/2021


Other Finnish


Rare earth elements (REE) are compulsory in order to maintain and run the current information society. Furthermore, new clean technologies such as electric cars, solar energy and wind power are dependent on the availability of REEs. China has governed the markets of these critical metals but in the recent years, other countries have realized that in order to ensure the availability of REEs novel solutions are required. Especially, electronic waste has been of interest but finding economical solutions has been very challenging. The aim of this project is to develop novel electrochemical and ion-exchange –based methods for the recovery of REEs from the side streams such as electronic waste, slag, ash and sludge and study the efficiency and economic aspects of these methods. The proposed solutions are planned by taking into account low carbon aspects by means of energy and material efficiency. Moreover, advanced modelling will be utilized in scaling the methods. In addition, the aim is to build a comprehensive network, which aims to enhance metal recycling in southeast Finland. In order to achieve this goal a survey about the side streams and utilizing companies will be conducted and possibility to realize novel industrial symbioses will be searched. The project is conducted as a cooperation of Lappeenranta University of Technology, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and Kouvola Innovation, which all are highly important actors in the region. Companies involved are governing the whole value chain from the producers of the side streams all to way to metal manufacturers. Therefore, the proposed project is in the core of circular economy.

The results of the project are new important information about the quantity and value of REEs in the industrial and municipal waste streams and the solutions for the recovery of rare earth elements from these streams. The solutions can be applied also for other valuable metals and different kind of side streams. The proposed project creates a strong platform for piloting the new methods and strengthens region’s position in the core of circular economy. The results of the project will be reported as publications in the scientific papers and conferences. Furthermore, the final seminar will be organized at the end of the project. During this seminar the results of the project are presented and participants are able to grow their network further. The final report will be published via a suitable channel. The products, solutions and demonstrations developed during this project are related to new recovery technologies and utilization of specific modelling. The steering group contains five companies who are able to utilize the results by developing new products and piloting presented solutions. The potential of Finland in the recycling of REEs/valuable metals will be considered broadly, when wide amount of different parties working in the field will be gathered.

The project will enhance many of the horizontal principles. The sustainable use of natural resources is enhanced by using secondary resources for rare earth elements, when the use of raw minerals can be reduced. This, on the other hand, will effect on the environmental burden caused by the mining activities reducing the risk of the pollution of soil and water resources. From the economical point of view, it is highly important that availability of the REEs is not dependent on the import of China. When waste streams are utilized better as resources, economical benefits are achieved from both waste utilization and reducing the purchase of imported metals. The sustainable development of local business is enhanced by the new business opportunities and formed industrial symbioses.

LUT Focus Areas

Last updated on 2021-17-08 at 10:59