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What's new at Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology?

Foto: Recycling index: It could inform consumers about the true recyclability of products. ©Copyright: Fairphone

How much circulation is possible?

Metal recycling is regarded as an important measure of the future to secure the supply of raw materials. Many experts agree on this. In most cases, howe­ver, it is unclear exactly how recyclable a product is and what proportion of the materials can be reco­vered at all. In an interview for the Helmholtz Association's "Earth and Environment" knowledge platform, HIF Director Professor Markus Reu­ter argues that the complexity of modern equipment and the resulting scrap make it har­der to close material flows and achieve a genuine circular economy.
Foto: Flotation lab. ©Copyright: HZDR/ Frank Schinski

Work and environmental safety and research go hand in hand

Anyone working in a laboratory in research and industry also deals with chemicals and other hazardous substances. To avoid risky situations, employees receive regular training. The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, which is part of Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, together with the laboratory equipment manufacturer VWR International, is organizing an in-house exhibition on the subject of work and environmental safety on Tuesday, 22.1.2019.
Foto: Freiberg scientists in Cape Town 2018 ©Copyright: Prof. Jens Gutzmer

Freiberg researchers at new raw materials conference in Cape Town

In summertime Cape Town, South Africa, Freiberg scientists from the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) and the TU Bergakademie presented current research results on the processing, extraction and recycling of strategic resources.
Foto: Anna Vanderbruggen ©Copyright: Anna Vanderbruggen

Student awards for research on recycling lithium ion batteries and gold reco­very from primary ore

Both Anna Vanderbruggen and Rosie Blannin won the “Prix AILg TFE” for their mas­ter theses accomplished at HIF and TU Bergakademie Freiberg in the course of the EMerald mas­ter program in resources engineering. The prize is awarded by the “Association des Ingénieurs diplômés de l’Uni­versité de Liège”. The graduates will now continue their research as PhD students: Anna Vanderbruggen just joined the HIF Processing Department and Rosie Blannin will be part of the Department of Analytics.
Foto: Metallurgie-Technikum: Erster Spatenstich am 17.10.2018 ©Copyright: HZDR/ Detlev Müller

Start made on construction of new metallurgy pilot plant at Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology

In a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday 17th October, the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) marked the start of construction work on a new technical facility. The institute, which is part of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and works in close collaboration with the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, is thus further expanding its research into the sustainable extraction and recycling of strategic resources. The Free State of Saxony is funding the project with a grant of 10.2 million euros.
Foto: Dr. Franziska Lederer leitet seit 1.10.2018 die Nachwuchsgruppe "BioKollekt" am HZDR ©Copyright: André Wirsig/HZDR

‘Bio-fishing’ for rare earths: How protein fragments can be used for the recycling of electronics waste

Without important key elements such as copper or rare earth metals, the electronics industry would grind to a halt and electricity would cease to flow. End-of-life products like discarded energy-saving lamps, mobile phones and computers could provide an important secondary source for these valuable elements; howe­ver, they are difficult to reco­ver. Unless, that is, small protein fragments are used to ‘fish’ them out – a technique described by researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the TU Bergakademie Freiberg in an article published in the specialist magazine Research in Microbiology.
Foto: Metallurgie-Technikum (Planungsansicht) ©Copyright: Baubüro Freiberg GmbH

Ground-breaking ceremony: New metallurgy pilot plant at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology

The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) – part of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and in close cooperation with TU Bergakademie Freiberg – is about to commence construction work on a new pilot plant for metallurgical processes. The purpose is to significantly expand application-oriented research into the extraction and recycling of strategic raw materials. Saxony’s State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts is funding the project with a grant of 10.2 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund.
Foto: Founding of the GERRI association ©Copyright: Fraunhofer-Projektgruppe IWKS

National raw materials network GERRI becomes association

With the founding of an association, the German Resource Research Institute is taking the next step to further promote the bundling of raw material expertise from science and industry for the German economy.
Foto: Mineral exploration sensor ©Copyright: Geotech Ltd.

INFACT’s first trials of innovative, non-invasive mineral exploration ­techno­logies are imminent

The EU-funded INFACT project, which is coordinated by Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, aims at combining the development and test of innovative, non-invasive minerals exploration ­techno­logies with an assessment of their social acceptance. For this purpose, three European reference sites will be established in Germany, Finland and Spain. Stakehol­der consultations took place at all sites in June and early July to pave the way for first technology trials which are about to start in August.
Foto: Pilot test: mining of test material at the Hämmerlein-Tellerhäuser complex-ore deposit in the Erzgebirge ©Copyright: HZDR

Raw Material­s Deposits in the Erzgebirge: Researchers aim to extract metals from local complex ores

Freiberg is at the centre of efforts of European raw-materials experts who aim to show that important metals can be extracted commercially from complex, composite ores that previously could not be exploited economically. The consortia of the German national project AFK, coordinated by the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, and the European funded project FAME, managed by Wardell Armstrong International UK (WAI) and Geokompetenz­zentrum Freiberg (GKZ), have joint forces to invigorate complex ore processing by using modern rock analysis methods and compu­ter simulations. The newly designed process is now to be tested in a pilot plant trial in Freiberg with 150 tonnes of ores from the Hämmerlein-Tellerhäuser deposit in the Erzgebirge.
Foto: Grain mount ©Copyright: HZDR/ Frank Schinski

Masters of the rocks: Professional networking for mineral sample pre­parators in Freiberg

Analysis technology has become so sophisticated that it now affords astonishingly accurate insights into the structure of rocks and minerals. But it is not only rock in its natural state that comes in for analysis but also specially prepared samples. There is a dedicated laboratory for this at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF), part of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf. From 13th to 14th March, mineral sample pre­parators from uni­versities and research institutes in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will be gathering together here.
Foto: Grain mount ©Copyright: HZDR/ Frank Schinski

Erzlabor: A spin-off for raw materials characterization

HZDR Press Release (Feb. 07, 2018): Profound understanding of raw materials’ characteristics is essential for process and resource efficiency in the mining as well as in the recycling sector. Material­s characterization has become a powerful tool for the acquisition of quantitative data and is already applied along the entire raw materials value chain, from the exploration of new deposits to their rehabilitation. The newly established company ERZLABOR Advanced Solutions GmbH provides analytical services for the primary as well as secondary resource industry. The team of scientists and engineers from the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) – part of HZDR – make state-of-the-art infrastructure and analytical competence available for the industry.
Foto: Fairphone ©Copyright: Fairphone

Back to the factory instead of in the garbage

Developments in waste ­manage­ment are supposed to head towards a circular economy: in accordance with this ideal, all the material used in manufacturing a product should be recyclable at the end of their lifespan. But a lot still has to happen before we get that far. As studies have shown, when it comes to electronic waste, modular construction and smart sorting would help to recycle valuable metals.
Foto: Flotation - Nahaufnahme ©Copyright: HZDR/ Frank Schinski

A foam bath for ores

In nature, raw materials do seldom occur in a pure form. The valuable particles in the ores first have to be painstakingly se­parated from other materials and enriched. The leading method for doing this is flotation. HZDR scientists examine its underlying mechanisms and microprocesses with the aim of optimizing industrial processes and improving the extraction efficiency in raw materials processing.
Foto: Crystal aggregate consisting of chalcopyrite, galenite, sphalerite and calcite. ©Copyright: HZDR/ Jürgen Jeibmann

Germany’s hidden treasures

The Energiewende is systemically changing our use of raw materials. While the need for coal, oil and gas is decreasing in the long term, the demand for metals and construction materials for energy-efficient wind and solar plants, battery and hydrogen storage or other systems is growing. Germany is not yet fully exploiting its potential in this field.