Scope of materials
SIM² KU Leuven targets both primary ores, extractive waste, industrial process residues and urban solid waste. Key focus areas are (1) metal extraction from increasingly complex, polymetallic, low-grade ores; (2) metal recovery from stocks of extractive waste (incl. tailings) and landfilled industrial process residues (e.g. sludges, dusts, slags…); (3) metal recovery from flows of industrial process residues from primary and secondary metal production; (4) direct (preconsumer) recycling of metal scrap and swarf generated during the production of metal-based (intermediate) products; (5) (postconsumer) recycling and/or urban mining of, respectively, flows and stocks of complex, multi-material, metal-containing products (e.g. End-of-Life Hybrid Electric Vehicles) as well as construction and demolition waste); and finally (6) landfill mining of historic urban solid waste. SIM² KU Leuven targets a near-zero-waste vision, which implies that any kind of residual mineral matrices are upcycled into added-value materials such as inorganic polymer binders and derived engineered products. Hazardous components are concentrated into specific phases that can be safely stored.
SIM² KU Leuven timeline
SIM² KU Leuven has existed as an interdisciplinary research line within KU Leuven MRC since 2011. The establishment of SIM² KU Leuven was based on previous successes, which date back as far as 2003 when the HiTemp Centre was initiated at the Department of Materials Engineering. This Centre, which still exists today, was set up as an Academic Competence and Service Centre, structurally funded by several world-leading, Flemish-based metallurgical companies, including Umicore and Aperam. Subsequently, the Centre led to interdisciplinary collaborations with other research groups at KU Leuven, both within the Department of Materials and beyond, in the field of geology, building materials, chemical metallurgy, recycling, environmental and techno-economic assessment, policy research, process psychology etc. Here below the reader can view the timeline of the various collaborations, platforms programmes and projects developed through SIM² KU Leuven are summarised, showing that the SIM² KU Leuven cluster grew “organically”.
Initiation Centre for Refractory Materials, catalyst for > 15 IWT O&O Projects (Umicore, “ALZ”, “Sidmar”) (HiTemp Group, MTM) (now Centre for HiTemp Processes and Sustainable Materials Management, funded by Umicore, Aperam, Group Machiels and Recmix)
IOF Mandate Holder Karel Van Acker (MRC)
IOF Mandate Holder Peter Tom Jones Industrial Ecology (MTM, CIT, BOKU, GEO, HUB)
Startup Flemish Enhanced Landfill Mining Consortium (KU Leuven (coord.), Group Machiels, OVAM, VITO etc.
IOF Knowledge Platform SMaRT-Pro² (CIT (coord.), GEO, BOKU, HUB, KHBO, MTM/Centre, COK, LAW)
Start-up InsPyro spin-off company
Start-up Centre for Resource Recovery and Recycling (KU Leuven + WPI and CSM from US)
IOF Leverage Project to prepare launching of SIM² KU Leuven
Entry of Prof. Koen Binnemans (Chemistry Dept.) in the cluster
IOF Knowledge Platform on Rare Earth Recycling and Start-up SUMMA (policy research centre)
European Breakthrough: FP7 EURARE and EREAN
KU Leuven in centre Belgian Urban/Landfill Mining Consortium for EIT KIC Raw MatTERS proposal
EIT Label Master in Sustainable Materials (Leuven, INP Grenoble, U Milano-Bicocca, U Trento, MU Leoben)
Policy research centre for Circular Economy
The KU Leuven Academic Council formally recognises SIM² as one of 4 flagship KU Leuven Institutes