Work with SIM²

Research Projects

General KU Leuven information

KU Leuven is currently by far the largest university in Belgium in terms of research funding and expenditure (EUR 455.1 million in 2015), and is a charter member of LERU. KU Leuven conducts fundamental and applied research in all academic disciplines with a clear international orientation. In the Times Higher Education ranking KU Leuven is ranked as the 12th European university, while in the Reuters Top 100 of the World’s most innovative institutions, KU Leuven is listed as the first European university. Leuven participates in over 540 highly competitive European research projects (FP7, 2007-2013), ranking sixth in the league of HES institutions participating in FP7. In Horizon 2020, KU Leuven currently has been approved more than 210 projects. 

KU Leuven takes up the 9th place of European institutions hosting ERC grants (as first legal signatories of the grant agreement). To date, the 93 ERC Grantees (including affiliates with VIB and IMEC) in our midst confirm that KU Leuven is a breeding ground (48 Starting Grants) and attractive destination for the world’s best researchers. The success in the FP7 and Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions is a manifestation of the three pillars of KU Leuven: research, education and service to society. In our 199 Actions, of which 96 Initial/European Training Networks, hundreds of young researchers have been trained through research and have acquired the necessary skills to transfer their knowledge into the world outside academia.

SIM² KU Leuven in EU projects

The KU Leuven success in the MSCA-ITN programme is to be partially explained by the extended range of projects won by the interdisciplinary SIM² KU Leuven cluster. SIM² KU Leuven coordinated the recently completed project FP7 MC-ITN EREAN, H2020 MSCA-ETN REDMUD, DEMETER, NEW-MINE and SOCRATES. On-going MSCA-ETN coordinated by SIM² KU Leuven are COSMIC, SULTAN and CHARMING (full list of H2020 ETN & R/IA projects: https://kuleuven.sim2.be/sim2-projects/eu-level/

SIM² KU Leuven hosts the Belgian-German-Dutch colocation centre for the prestigious EIT RawMaterials and coordinates several KAVA Training, Upscaling and Network-of-Infrastructure projects. KU Leuven is the lead EU partner in the US NSF-supported I/U Cooperative Centre for Resource Recovery and Recycling (http://wp.wpi.edu/cr3/).

SIM² KU Leuven hosts two ERC Grants (Prof. Koen Binnemans & Prof. Simon Kuhn)

SIM² has two ERC Grantees among its ranks: Prof. Koen Binnemans (Advanced Grant, SOLCRIMET) & Pro. Simon Kuhn (Consolidator Grant, MICRODISCO).


SOLCRIMET’s aim is to successfully apply a ground-breaking metallurgical approach – solvometallurgy – to the extraction of specific critical metals, i.e. rare earths, tantalum, niobium, cobalt, indium, gallium, germanium and antimony, which are key enablers of the required transition to a low-carbon, circular economy.

MICRODISCO aims to provide fundamental understanding of ultrasound resonance modes and targets a theoretical tool for their prediction, leading to innovative and intensified electro- and photochemical reactors promoting green and sustainable chemistry.

SIM² KU Leuven coordinates several EU H2020 Marie-Curie Training Networks and participates in regular EU projects

SIM² KU Leuven has made the strategic choice to coordinate MSCA-ETN projects. It has secured funding for 8 MSCA-ETN projects in 6 years: FP7 MC-ITN EREAN H2020 MSCA-ETN REDMUD, DEMETER, NEW-MINE, SOCRATES (all recently completed) and the on-going COSMIC, CHARMING and SULTAN projects.

Concurrently, SIM² KU Leuven is also a key partner in regular Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Actions (IAs and RIAs) and COST Actions. Examples are PLATIRUS, CROCODILE, NEMO, TARANTULA, Sea4Value, REMOVAL, COST NORM4BUILDING.

Overview ETNs @ KU Leuven

Involve SIM² in your EU projects?

With more than 40 European projects, SIM² KU Leuven is a widely respected player in and coordinator of European research projects, ranging from ERC Grants to Marie-Curie training/doctoral networks, Research Actions, Research and Innovation Actions, as well as EIT RawMaterials upscaling projects.  With SIM² KU Leuven we cover a wide TRL range (from TRL2 to TRL6) across the full value chain from metal/mineral extraction, processing, refining and recycling.

Our key assets are:

  • Geological and geometallurgical characterisation of primary ores and extractive waste;
  • Hydro- and solvometallurgy, with a focus on energy-transition metals (Li, Ni/Co/Mn, REEs, Cu…);
  • Pyrometallurgy, with a strong focus on green steelmaking (e.g. hydrogen(-plasma) and vacuum metallurgy;
  • Process intensification of metallurgical processes;
  • Development of innovative building materials from secondary resources (slags, tailings…);
  • Demanufacturing of End-of-Life complex products (e.g. batteries) and lifecycle engineering;
  • Sustainability assessment of metal production and recycling processes (cf. LCA, MFA etc.);
  • Risk assessment of metals in (primary) mining environments);

If you are looking for a partner in one of your EU project proposals, you can contact us directly:

Involve SIM² in contract research projects?

SIM² has a long tradition in working together with industry in targeted, confidential projects that allow the development (or the optimisation) of new (or existing) metallurgical processes, using our state-of-the-art lab and mini-pilot scale experimental facilities. In this category of projects we run both short-term, small-to-medium-sized bilateral projects and long-term, larger framework agreement research projects. IP matters are soundly dealt with these Services Agreement contracts, for which SIM² receives the support of KU Leuven’s Legal Department (Leuven Research and Development, LRD). The basic principle for both types of bilateral projects is to develop a tailored approach, based on trust between the industrial/RTD partner and SIM². The primary goal is to help solving problems and/or to find new opportunities. Academic targets are secondary in these projects. To obtain more details we advise you to contact us directly

SIM²’s (past & present) European projects

Communication Dissemination

Apart from being an ideal science/technology partner in the domain of zero-waste valorisation of metal-containing End-of-Life products, extractive waste and/or industrial process residues, SIM² KU Leuven also offers it services as “dissemination and outreach” partner in your multi-partner EU and EIT RawMaterials projects. Taking into account that the European Commission is increasingly stressing the importance of social acceptance issues, as well as tailored dissemination and communication towards a diversity of target audiences, SIM² KU Leuven can be of real assistance to you.

SIM² KU Leuven offers a wide range of communication, dissemination & outreach tools and services, specially tailored for European funded projects:

We develop a smart/integrated website for your project, which is automatically linked to other initiatives, allowing to harvest relevant news from other websites.

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The website contains dynamic features, showing sliders with news items, videos, new publications, events etc. We then also couple the website with a Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn company page or a LinkedIn Group page (e.g. Zero-waste) allowing us to boost the impact of the project news items.

ETN Websites Portfolio:

RIA/IA Websites Portfolio:

Using the same project style as for the website we can develop a tailored set of project leaflets and corporate presentations, which can be used by project members when they have to represent the consortium at events. Concurrently, our team can develop a comprehensive dissemination kit, which can also include project logo, project presentation templates (ppt, doc), project poster, roll-up banner.

SIM² KU Leuven has also developed (1) automated reporting tool for all (peer-reviewed) Open Access publications developed through the project, allowing “H2020/Horizon Europe-proof” depositing in Open Access compliant repositories, (2) forms to report all project-related communication and dissemination activities (participation in workshops, conferences; organisation of events; interviews…) performed by Consortium members. The latter facilitates sound EU project reporting in the EU Participant Portal system. The tool are smartly integrated with the project website, acting as a single entry point for scientific paper reporting & archiving and dissemination activities reporting for European Projects.

Early Stage Researcher (ESR) recruitment tool for ETN projects is necessary in order to comply with EC recruitment rules and regulations AND to reduce the number of uncompliant candidates, usually by one order of magnitude. Smart notifications are being sent to the recruitment team and to the supervisor of each ESR position to facilitate the selection, interviewing and recruitment of the best candidates for the researcher positions.

In order to communicate the results of your projects to a diversity of professional audience (academia, RTDs, industry, policy makers etc.) we produce Mailchimp Newsletters which contain all key items of your project (for style, see e.g. SIM² KU Leuven Newsletter). As such, the visibility of your project and the results obtained can be drastically enhanced, leading to a much larger impact than without such a strategy. In terms of reaching EU and national Policy Makers, SIM² KU Leuven also has a lot of experience in developing Policy Briefs (either as separate files or integrated in the Newsletters) which highlight policy-relevant parts of the project (e.g. NEW-MINE Policy Brief). Once again, this can dramatically increase the impact of your project and/or open up new avenues for future research, innovation and demonstration.

Gathering relevant content for website and social media can be difficult. The content authoring tool is designed to help project team members create content in a simple way, without the hassle of managing the website, publishing news items, blog posts & events to multiple platforms. A simple approval workflow (integrated with project website and Social Media Accounts) will ensure the right content goes out at the right time and through the adequate channels, maximizing the communication impact.

An intranet is very useful as a collaborative tool during the project implementation, especially for projects with multiple partners, acting as a middle-ground tool for internal project communication and project management. The intranet consists of different workspaces and apps, configured and organized in a hierarchical way, in order to reflect the project structure and to help individuals and teams in their work. Organizing team work, planning tasks execution, exchanging info, creating polls, sharing files, scheduling meetings are just a few functionalities that can make life easier during a project lifetime. Workspaces built and configured for each project Work Package, for Communication or Project Management, with access control at group and user level, configurable workflows, a real-time activity stream and a dynamic mobile app will make your project team happier!

SIM² KU Leuven is also highly experienced in organising project events such as Events in the European Parliament (e.g. 2nd ELFM Seminar in the EP), Summer Schools, Bootcamps, Conferences and Symposia, Policy Workshops. The SIM² KU Leuven team can provide a tailored scheme in view of the need of the project.

Social License to Operate

The European Commission is paying increasing attention to the social acceptance in the European Raw Materials Sector. In the Horizon 2020 calls for projects, the consortia are explicitly asked to integrate a clear strategy on how civil society will be engaged in order to build trust in the mining and recycling sectors in Europe. Often, social acceptance and public trust are translated into the granting (or not) of a ‘Social License to Operate’ (SLO). The concept has become increasingly important, especially in the extractive industry, and more recently it has been adopted also in other economic sectors such as energy production, agriculture, and forestry. SIM² KU Leuven offers it services to become your SLO partner in your multi-partner EU and EIT RawMaterials projects. Starting from a comprehensive stakeholder analysis on local and regional level, a stakeholder engagement strategy is developed and implemented with special attention to local communities living in the vicinity of the industrial operations.

  • The organisation of locals events stimulates the awareness of interdependency and allows for increased contextual sensitivity. This bottom-up approach is materialized through a local dialogue focusing on transparency, trust building, risk management and participatory monitoring. (Example: Locals event at the Remo landfill site in Belgium)
  • Complementary, we organize a series of top-down events, a high level multi-stakeholder transition arena, where lessons learned and policy recommendations are formulated. Our researchers in process psychology, multi-stakeholder collaboration and groups dynamics are experts in facilitating these events (see EU NEMO, EU CROCODILE)

Industrial Sounding Board ISB

The ISB (Industrial Sounding Board) consists of external parties (companies and also governmental and civil society actors). Once per year these parties are invited to the open SIM² annual meeting where research results are shown and research roadmaps are discussed. Currently, the ISB is also used as a virtual entity, which is targeted with tailored communication and dissemination products.

When/if SIM² KU Leuven is officially endorsed as a formal Leuven Institute, a larger event will be organised to kick-start this new episode for SIM²: this event will be used to further professionalise the functioning of the ISB (roles, meeting types, communication channels, project generation approach etc.). Apart from “open” ISB meetings, SIM² KU Leuven also foresees more specific activities, such as “SIM² KU Leuven dinners” (on specific topics) and “SIM² KU Leuven vision meetings” (on-invitation only, VP level).

To join the Industrial Sounding Board, a signed Letter of Intent has to be sent to Dr. Ir. Peter Tom Jones.

Currently,  SIM² KU Leuven is in contact with companies and other actors, through on-going collaborations within the framework of the HiTemp Centre, CR³ and the former RARE³ KU Leuven Platform (now converted to the SOLVOMET Industrial Service Centre)


Centre for High Temperature Processes and Sustainable Materials Management

CR³ – Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling


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Hydro-flowsheet development

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Hydro-flowsheet development


Thermodynamic modelling of SX processes

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Lithium-flowsheet development (Thacker Pass project, Li-clays)


Lithium-flowsheet development (Salar de Atacama, Li-brines)


Application of bromine technology in urban mining/recycling

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Metal recovery from steelmaking sludges


Ag recovery hydro-flowsheet


Application of GTL solvents in hydro-flowsheet


Hydro-flowsheet development


Hydro-flowsheet development (for EoL tyre recycling)


Urban mining /recycling study (REEs)

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Developing flowsheets for Sn recovery

SIM² Education