European Commission - Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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Copper Based Electrochemical Solutions

Acronym: 
CuBES
Abstract / executive summary: 

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.
The scope:
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.

Coverage of the Action Areas referred to above: 

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.

Objectives of the commitment: 

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.

Description of the activities: 

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.

Description of the expected impacts: 

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.

Expected innovation outcomes: 
New processes
New technologies
New business models
New ideas to the market
Comments: 

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.

Name of the coordinating organisation: 
European Copper Institute
Country: 
Europe
Entity profile: 
Multi-national organization
Other: 
Industry Association
Role within the commitment: 

ECI will
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

Other partners: 
Name of partner: 
Invro Ltd.
Country: 
United Kingdom
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
Innovation in the area of control of current and power in electrolysis. Invro Ltd has worked with several large companies in the copper industry to produce innovative electrolysis systems. The collaboration has produced 4 granted patents and 9 patent applications in progress. Invro Ltd is a partner in the UltraWire EU FP 7 project along with several major copper producing and processing companies.
Name of partner: 
Instytut Metali Niezelaznych (Institute of Non-Ferrous Metals)
Country: 
Poland
Entity profile: 
Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: 
Laboratory and pilot scale research on mineral processing, pyrometallurgy, material science and hydrometallurgical production of metals. Studies conducted in the Electrochemical Processes Laboratory are focused on metal recovery and refining. IMN has also a Central Laboratory of Batteries and Cells. IMN is the major research centre of the Polish non-ferrous industry.
Name of partner: 
TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Institut für NE-Metallurgie und Reinststoffe (INEMET)
Country: 
Germany
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
The facilities of the INEMET incorporate various electrolysis cells, 1000 A rectifier, data acquisition systems, electrochemical workstations and a large analytic lab (ICP-OES, AAS, OES for solid Cu samples, SEM-EDXRF, -WDXRF, mass-spectroscopy). INEMET has conducted 50 years of electrometallurgy research including numerous PhD theses on Cu electrowinning and refining. Currently 3 PhD students are working on copper electrometallurgy.
Name of partner: 
Industrial Chemistry Research Institute, Warsaw
Country: 
Poland
Entity profile: 
Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: 
Development of in situ manufacturing technology to recover metals from leaching and/or waste copper solutions by using a new, patented method/technology of electrolysis with a potential control (PCEl). In the present project the application of the PCEl will be extended to other metals present in the PLS solutions, copper by products solutions, decopperisation process, etc.
Name of partner: 
Aurubis
Country: 
Germany
Entity profile: 
Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: 
Convener, contributor and moderator of the debates, cares that the discussion remains focussed on topics related to the scope of commitment, facilitates the development of creative concepts which are feasible for implementation in industrial environment in the long run, in consensus with all the participants and would lead to development of different project ideas.
Name of partner: 
IMDEA Energy Institute
Country: 
Spain
Entity profile: 
Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: 
Scientific research and technological development of electrochemical processes applied to copper for energy storage, energy harvesting, energy efficiency and low carbon emissions.
Name of partner: 
Aalto University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Research Group of Hydrometallurgy and Corrosion
Country: 
Finland
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
Research group of Hydrometallurgy and Corrosion - Experience on copper electrorefining and copper chloride leaching - in close co-operation with industry.
Name of partner: 
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Country: 
Switzerland
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
EPFL is a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. We will participate in development of copper based energy storage technologies in a lab-scale.
Name of partner: 
Boliden Harjavalta - Boliden Mineral
Country: 
Sweden
Entity profile: 
Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: 
Boliden is mining and metals company with focus on sustainable development. The company's core competence is within the fields of exploration, mining, smelting and metals recycling. Boliden has two copper refineries.
Name of partner: 
C-Tech Innovation Ltd.
Country: 
United Kingdom
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
Developed of Redox flow battery technology based on a range of chemistries, included copper based system. LCA and environmental impact assessment.
Name of partner: 
Imperial College London
Country: 
United Kingdom
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
Modelling, quantification and analysis of the technical and economic impacts of the technologies investigated, including storage technologies and potential demand response technologies associated with the copper industry, on the whole European energy system. Modelling of business models to maximise energy storage profits from their participation in multiple inter-dependent energy markets.
Name of partner: 
Catalonia Institute for Energy Research
Country: 
Spain
Entity profile: 
Other
Other: 
Technological Research Institute
Role within the commitment: 
IREC will participate in the development of copper based solutions for electrochemical storage and energy harvesting and promote the collaboration between fundamental and applied research and industry through different platforms and excellence research networks.
Name of partner: 
VITO (Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek)
Country: 
Belgium
Entity profile: 
Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: 
As an organization devoted to sustainability, VITO is interested in the sustainable materials value chain for copper, as well as in the system aspects of copper-based electrochemical storage solutions.
Name of partner: 
Energy research Centre of the Netherlands
Country: 
Netherlands
Entity profile: 
Other
Other: 
Technological Research Institute
Role within the commitment: 
ECN has a broad experience in R&D, testing and consultancy in the area of re-use of valuable components from waste streams including electrochemical recovery processes. ECN’s contribution to CuBES is component development and optimisation, lab scale testing, process design and evaluation of technology combinations.
Name of partner: 
Atlantic Copper S.L.U.
Country: 
Spain
Entity profile: 
Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: 
Identification of potential technologies and/or ideas which may be of interest to develop new processes for treating secondary raw materials such as EoL products, slags and dust Participation in the evaluation and sellection of those ideas to be further developed Attendance to the CuBES annual workshop as well as collaboration in other dissemination activities
Name of partner: 
WIP - Wirtschaft und Infrastruktur GmbH & Co Planungs-KG
Country: 
Germany
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
WIP is an SME active in the Renewable Energy sector since over 30 years. WIP is specialized in joining consortia and in developing project proposals, including for submission to the European Commission. WIP offers to actively contribute in developing proposals and later, in case of success, supporting the partners in project coordination towards the EC but also with accompanying measures, such as result dissemination, in case required.
Name of partner: 
Umicore
Country: 
Belgium
Entity profile: 
Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: 
Umicore has technology interest in this commitment being an important metal refining stakeholder of the copper industry and because of our own electrochemical processes for copper (30000 t/y). We see value in complementing this commitment in a later stage with new process development for treatment and valorization of slags to meet the upcoming more stringent legislation for building material applications, a shared issue with the copper industry.
Name of partner: 
Metallo-Chimique N.V.
Country: 
Belgium
Entity profile: 
Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: 
Identify the research and innovation themes necessary to maintain the competitiveness of EII within the scope and contribute to develop and validate the solutions proposed. Metallo is a recycler of complex non-ferrous scrap, ashes and residues. It is in our strategy to valorize to the maximum extent all elements present in our raw materials (already valorizing copper, tin, lead and nickel).
Name of partner: 
ERAMET
Country: 
France
Entity profile: 
Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: 
ERAMET wil bring its experience in pyro- and hydrometallurgical processes.
Name of partner: 
Aalto University, Department of Chemistry, Research group of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry
Country: 
Finland
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
Development of advanced materials processing and energy storage solutions based on electrochemistry of copper.
Name of partner: 
Outotec (Finland) Oy
Country: 
Finland
Entity profile: 
Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: 
Metallurgy of solid-state materials and chemistry including pyro- and hydrometallurgy. Outotec explores new applications for its technologies originally developed for the minerals and metals processing. Energy efficiency and industrial water treatment require solutions for utilizing scarce raw materials in an efficient and environmentally sound way.
Existing EU contribution: 
No
Period to implement the commitment: 
Sunday, 1 May, 2016 to Tuesday, 30 April, 2019