Upcycling of Low-grade Materials

Raw materials and residues are upcycled through innovative processes leading to new applications. The developed processes and materials demonstrate a sustainability advantage over existing ones and are industrially realistic. In terms of raw materials, attention is placed on clays, sludges, ashes, residues and tailings, whereas, as processes, alkali activation, carbonation, (bio-)leaching, and high temperature processes, involving hydrothermal synthesis, liquid-phase sintering and clinkering, are investigated.

Flagship Topics:

  • Synthesis of inorganic polymers and new binders
  • Beneficiation of tailings and NORM residues
  • Low footprint (electromagnetic induction/radiation) high temperature processing
  • Holistic, zero waste flowsheets from Enhanced Landfill Mining outputs
  • Waste water and waste water sludge as secondary resource

The Team:

The leading members in this research line are:

Yiannis is the Research Line Leader and the coordinator of Secondary Resources for Engineered Material (SREMat) research group at MTM (https://www.mtm.kuleuven.be/Onderzoek/sremat/). Yiannis is work package leader or project coordinator in approximately 10 projects dealing with the valorisation of bauxite residue (red mud), slags from ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, and vitrified residues from municipal solid wastes, ranging from fundamental to competitive work and from bilateral Flemish ones, to multi-actor international projects. Yiannis and the SREMat group have an expertise on ceramic, cement and inorganic polymer (geopolymer) processing from binder to full scale prototypes.

Contact Dr. Pontikes

Prof. Özlem Cizer is conducting research at the Civil Engineering Department in the field of sustainable construction materials with a focus on mineral-based binders (lime- and cement-based materials), alkali-activated materials, and their early-age properties and durability. She is an MC member of a wide European network group of COST Action TU1404 on cement-based materials and structures, and coordinating the work on chemical and microstructure characterization. She is a member of RILEM and the Editor-in-Chief of the international journal of Restoration of Buildings and Monuments.

Prof. Koenraad Van Balen is a civil engineer.

Prof. Lucie Vandewalle is a civil engineer and her research focuses on the technology and structural behaviour of concrete. Her main research topics are fibre reinforced concrete, selfcompacting concrete, high early strength concrete, creep and shrinkage of concrete and shear capacity of prestressed concrete beams. She is convenor of FIB TG4.1 “Fibre Concrete” and of CEN/TC104/WG11 “Polymer fibres”.

Prof. Boudewijn Meesschaert is a specialist in the valorisation of waste water as secondary resource. He initiated several projects on the recovery of phosphate and nitrogen as well as projects on energy effficient nitrogen removal, including both biological approches and membrane applications. He is the Belgian representative of B-IWA in the governing asembly of the International water assocation (IWA) and is an IWA-fellow.

Prof. Jan Elsen Prof. Jan Elsen is a geologist and his research focuses on the mineralogical characterisation and use of industrial minerals (clays, cement minerals and zeolite deposits with pozzolanic properties).  Techniques used include Quantitative X-Ray Diffraction, petrography, electron microscopy and thermal and chemical analysis.

Prof. Luc Boehme Luc Boehme is specialist in recycling construction and demolition waste and industrial residues. He initiated several projects to find suitable applications for the use of fine recycled mixed aggregates as well as coarse recycled concrete aggregates.

Prof. Valerie Cappuyns is senior lecturer in environmental science and technology. Her research interests include environmental geochemistry (solid-phase characterisation and leaching of heavy metals from soils, sediments and waste materials), sustainable management of contaminated sites, life cycle analysis, and  eco-efficiency.

Dr. Lieven Machiels is a geologist performing research in the area of Enhanced Landfill Mining, plasma processing and slag valorisation and is highly active in the industrial implementation of inorganic polymer based building products in Flanders.

Dr. Lubica Kriskova  is a post-doctoral researcher experienced in the field of valorisation of ferrous and non-ferrous slags . Her main expertise domain is synthesis of cement based binders and solid as well as porous inorganic polymers.

Dr. Silviana Onisei is a materials engineer experienced in the field of binders developed from various secondary materials. Her main expertise domain is synthesis of inorganic polymers from slags with high iron content.

Dr. Remus Iacobescu Is a postdoc researcher at KU Leuven (SREMat research group) with as main focus the synthesis of “low energy” and Ordinary Portland cement clinkers, investigation of pozzolanic activity in blended cements, production of geopolymers and preparing/testing products according to European/American/International norms (e.g. EN 196-1, EN 196-3, EN 196-6, etc.).

Dr. Lieven Pandelaers is a materials engineer focusing on the high-temperature aspects of residue valorisation. Through experiments and thermodynamic modelling he investigates the effect of hot stage engineering and solidification of slags on the opportunities for subsequent binder development.