CuBES will be a platform to exploit and develop the capabilities of the copper extracting and refining industry in order to contribute to the EU goals and targets such as resource efficiency and energy storage.
Copper is a key enabler of resource efficiency (Reuter & Kojo, ERZMETALL 67 (2014), 46-53). It is the ultimate recyclable material, when used to treat End-of-Life (EoL) products its attractive electrochemistry allows it to act as a solvent and collector with good recovery of valuable materials including the platinum group metals (PGMs), rare earths, silver and gold.
To keep EU’s copper industry competitive, to have an EU capacity to handle EoL products as raw materials and to prevent valuable materials crucial for the circular economy end up in slag or waste, we must innovate.
1-To convene a broad dissemination platform of stakeholders, covering academia, research institutes, metal producers and equipment manufacturers, meeting in an annual workshop.
2-To exchange ideas and concepts for development, to discuss available knowledge and to critically challenge each other on the applicability of these concepts in real life situations in the next 5 to 10 years.
3-Based on criteria defined by the platform, technologies will be identified for development projects. CuBES will catalyse support - national and H2020 funding will be solicited in addition to industry funding.
4-When a TRL threshold is reached in a project e.g. for energy storage, wind operators, system operators and the financial community will be invited.
Ideas for evaluation include improving energy and resource efficiency of existing hydrometallurgical refining processes and tuning processes for recovery of CRMs (COM (2014) 297) using electrochemical solutions for processing EoL electronics, and in particular very dilute streams of CRMs e.g. the PGMs and REEs present in secondary raw materials.
This knowhow will be used to address the EU’s electricity storage needs.
The main focus of CuBES will be under the Technology Pillar (I.1 Action 4). CuBES will improve R&D coordination between industry and researchers, especially in promoting development of new strategies for processing and refining of secondary raw materials. This includes, as per [I.5 Action 1], recycling end of life products and treatment of slags and dusts, utilising copper industry know-how.
As per [I.4 action 2], improved energy and process efficiencies are expected, and as a consequence, improved recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and recovery of technology metals which are today lost, leading to increased availability of precious metals and CRMs. This will bring job creation in processing and process equipment manufacture.
Under the Non-Technology Pillar CuBES will increase knowledge and build trust [II.3 Action 1], raise public awareness and acceptance, helping the wider community to understand the importance of a strong European copper refining industry for resource sustainability and a secure supply of technology metals for the EU.
Under the International Cooperation Pillar (III.1 Action 4), CuBES will shorten the implementation time of new lower energy processing techniques and recycling technologies to keep the EU copper industry competitive.
The CuBES platform will act as a facilitator to accelerate the development of ideas into marketable solutions for own consumption or commercialisation and help to disseminate public IPR within its scope.
The consortium will convene a broad platform of stakeholders - academic, research institutes, metals producers, equipment manufacturers - and later also wind operators, system operators and the financial community - to exchange ideas and concepts for development, to discuss available knowledge and to critically challenge each other on the real life applicability of these concepts in the next 5 to 10 years.
Based on criteria defined by the platform, technologies will be identified and support catalysed for projects utilising national, industrial and H2020 funding. The platform's target is to launch at least one project with a €4-6M range budget within the first 2 years.
The CuBES platform will be a one-stop-shop for copper electrometallurgy information, acting as an operating system for disseminating information about underlying projects of the partners, scouting for other projects utilising copper electrochemistry which are already running in the EU, as well as scoping new project ideas.
The main CuBES channel will be an annual workshop on copper electrochemical technology. By 2020 the workshop could have evolved into a permanent conference series to continue independently after CuBES ends; thus addressing the problem outlined in action area II.8 of the SIP - of data maintenance ending with the end of an EU project.
Ideas for development will be collected, published on the CuBES platform to inform the consortium members and encourage them to share similar ideas for technological solutions to the EU challenges mentioned in the SET plan, such as low temperature waste heat transformation to electricity or energy storage.
A qualification matrix will be developed to identify ideas likely to be technically and economically feasible within a 3 to 5 year timeframe. The CuBES partners may then decide among themselves to develop these further from TRL 3 to TRL 7 based on their individual priorities, in self-managed groups, keeping the consortium informed about the publicly available IPR.
The approach chosen will be tailored according to the TRL of the technology under consideration:
1 - Early stage projects with a low TRL (e.g. 2 or 3) will use a direct communicative practice concept whilst gathering a knowledge base including a monthly webinar. Unique individuals and experts will be identified. Bimonthly conference calls will be arranged for tailored focus groups working on specific projects, bringing the community of practice together on a regular basis whilst growing it.
2 - For technologies at TRLs 4 to 5, cost benefit analyses will be conducted and business cases developed.
3 - For technologies at the demonstration stage - TRL 6 and beyond - outreach to the user community will be appropriate.
3a - CuBES will be a neutral source of information with a communication confidence building approach, utilising e.g. conference presentations and the trade press.
3b - In the case of energy storage a multichannel approach to the system operator communities will be utilised, liaising with their sector associations.
Initial example topics for evaluation include:
1 - Improving energy and resource efficiency of hydrometallurgical refining processes and tuning processes for recovery of valuable materials.
2 - Electrochemical solutions for processing electronic feed streams, and in particular very dilute streams of valuable materials including the PGMs and the CRMs present in secondary raw materials e.g. EoL electronics, slags and dusts.
3 - Alternative methods for copper refining such as the “Outotec Indirect” process utilising a redox intermediate (Heimala & Ruonala, US2010180727 (A1), 2010-07-22).
4 - Application of copper's electrochemistry, hydrometallurgy and EU tankhouse technology know-how to electricity storage using large flow batteries on the MW / MWh scale (Barker, FI125195 (B), 2015-06-30) and (Lloyd & Sanz, WO2015136158 (A1), 2015-09-17). These concepts are based on readily available materials which promise technical & economic advantages. Such storage is critically needed in the EU’s energy transition to provide flexibility to the electricity system.
CuBES will have impact under all three pillars of the SIP for the EIP on Raw Materials.
1 - Improved R&D coordination between industry and researchers, especially in promoting development of new strategies for energy storage as well as for processing and refining of secondary raw materials.
2 - CuBES will shorten the implementation time of new, lower energy processing techniques and recycling technologies to keep the EU copper refining industry competitive.
3 - New processes will be developed for recycling end of life products and treatment of slags and dusts - utilising copper industry know-how.
4 - Improved energy and process efficiencies are expected, and as a consequence improved recycling of WEEE and recovery of technology metals which are today lost, leading to increased availability of CRMs. This will bring job creation in processing and process equipment manufacture.
5 - CuBES will increase knowledge and build trust, raise public awareness and acceptance, helping the community to understand the importance of a strong European copper refining industry for resource sustainability and a secure supply of technology metals for the EU.
6 - CuBES will deliver electrometallurgy expertise for copper extraction and associated refining technologies to related commitments. CuBES will also contribute to the activities of the EIT KIC on Raw Materials where several CuBES partners are already present.
7 - For interactions outside the EU, CuBES will strengthen cooperation with academia who are in contact with the Latin American copper producers especially in the Atacama (Chile and Peru), metal producers in South Africa and the Copperbelt producers of Zambia and the DR Congo, increasing knowledge and skills of those working in the sector.
CuBES consortium partners are presently preparing a proposal for the LCE-01-2016 RIA and are considering a consortium for the SPIRE-07-2017 IA and for SPIRE-10-2017 RIA calls.
Although we do not intend to address Action area II.1, action 8 directly, we nevertheless anticipate that that CuBES may come with policy recommendations on extraction, processing and waste management.
1- coordinate the platform and organise communication
2- host an annual workshop and regular telco & webmeetings
3- support the preparation of H2020 projects and other funding mechanisms
4- provide expertise on sustainable development aspects
5- establish a liaison with ongoing projects and with the sector’s efforts in the sustainable development & competitiveness fields
6- For TRL>5, organise dissemination towards possible users