Meet our SIM² KU Leuven researcher: Willem Vereycken

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In September 2018 Willem Vereycken started his PhD in the SOLVOMET lab supervised by Prof. Koen Binnemans (cf. Research Line 3 in SIM² KU Leuven). This week he has been nominated for short list for the “Eos Scriptieprijs 2018” for his excellent Master Thesis on the recycling of LEDs using ionic liquids (you can vote for Willem here). His present PhD work is focused around the solvent extraction of critical metals using ionic liquids in milliflow applications. Find out more about Willem and his work in the interview below. (Leuven, 26/11/2018)

Why did you choose to work in Leuven/Belgium?

I was born and raised in Belgium, I studied in Leuven and had really enjoyed my master’s thesis in the lab of Prof. Binnemans. Consequently, it felt more than natural to stay when I was presented with the opportunity the start a PhD. In addition, Leuven is not too far from my hometown and my family and friends.

What are you working on?

I am working on the KU Leuven ISOMER project, which involves the intensification of solvent extraction technology for small-volume, but high-value streams containing critical metals. My task is the development of solvent extraction systems using ionic liquids for the application in milliflow devices. The work is focused around two case studies: the separation of platinum/palladium/rhodium and the purification of germanium.

What attracts you in the research project you are working on?

What attracts me the most to the work of the SOLVOMET Group is that all projects (including the ISOMER project), in one way or another, are aimed at a more sustainable future and raw material use. This in itself is a beautiful ideal to be working for.

If you had a time machine, what point in the past or future would you visit? Why?

I would choose to visit the not so distant future, let’s say 100 years from now. I would really like to see how humanity will have tackled the problems and issues (refugee crisis, greenhouse gas emissions, waste disposal…) we are facing today. Of course, seeing the technological advancements would also be awesome.

What’s something you want to do in the next year that you’ve never done before?

I have never trained for and participated in some kind of physical challenge. I would like to run the 10 miles of Antwerp or a half marathon.

How do you recharge?

I can recharge in many different ways. For a small recharge on weekdays, I like to watch movies or series or go for a run. For a more thorough recharge, I really enjoy travelling. This can be anything from a small city trip (even within Belgium) to being abroad for a few weeks.

Biography Willem Vereycken

Photo Willem Vereycken

Willem Vereycken was born in Mortsel (Belgium) on the 27th of September 1995. He studied chemistry in Leuven, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 2016 and his master’s degree in 2018 both summa cum laude. Recycling and waste valorisation were a general theme throughout his studies. During his master he undertook an internship at VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research) researching the valorisation of metals from zinc industry residues. The subject of his Masters Thesis involved the recovery of critical metals from LED waste, for which he has been nominated for the Eos Scriptieprijs 2018. In September 2018 Willem started his PhD in the SOLVOMET lab supervised by Prof. Koen Binnemans. His work is focused around the solvent extraction of critical metals using ionic liquid technology for the application in milliflow devices.


Vote here for Willem Vereyken to win the Eos Scriptieprijs 2018 for his excellent MSc thesis on the recovery of CRMs from LED waste using ionic liquids !!

Vote here for Willem Vereycken

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