Project: Recovery of Precious Metals from Spent Catalysts by Supercritical CO2 Extraction Assisted by Polymers

Acronym SUPERMET (Reference Number: ERA-MIN-2017_36)
Duration 01/05/2018 - 30/04/2021
Project Topic SUPERMET project proposes to explore an eco-friendly disruptive technology for the recycling of precious metals, especially palladium (Pd) and platinum (Pt), from spent catalysts, e.g. from petrochemistry catalysts, by extraction in supercritical CO2 (scCO2) thanks to complexing polymers bringing the insoluble precious metals into the scCO2 medium. Precious metals such as Pd or Pt are used extensively in applications for catalysis not only in the petrochemistry, but also in the field of automotive (three way catalyst) and in the synthesis of fine chemicals. The scarcity of these metals poses a risk for the European countries which do not have this primary resource. The pyrometallurgical and metallurgical state of the art techniques developed for the recovery of these metals are energy-intensive, destructive, and generate large volumes of toxic effluents. With our proposed innovative recycling process, the catalytic support and the precious metal remain intact and can be reused as well as the used CO2 and polymer, so that there are no toxic effluents. Due to adjustable solvent properties of scCO2, the dissolved polymer-metal complex can be removed from the CO2 simply by depressurization. So, this new process is eco-efficient and solves a core problem of the state of the art processes. Within the project, metal-complexing polymers, soluble in supercritical CO2, will be synthesized by ICGM (France). Afterwards, they will be used by Fraunhofer ICT (Germany) as additives for the extraction by supercritical CO2 of precious metals from spent catalysts (solid matrices) supplied by Heraeus (Germany). The project will focus on the recovery of extracted precious metals either directly as a polymer/metal mixture or as refined metals by subsequent separation techniques such as electrodeposition. Physico-chemical analyses will be done at ICIA (Romania). Meetings, networking, and watch on supercritical fluid technology will be organized with the support of IFS (France).
Website visit project website
Network ERA-MIN 2
Call ERA-MIN Joint Call 2017

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier Coordinator France
3 Association : Innovation Fluides Supercritiques Partner France
4 Heraeus Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG Partner Germany
5 Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. Partner Germany