News of 14.11.2018
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 HZDR's Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (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.
Anna Vanderbruggen is a geologist engineer who graduated from École Nationale Supérieure de Géologie in Nancy, France. Then she completed the EMerald master program with her thesis focusing on the recovery of graphite from spent lithium ion batteries. The work was done in collaboration with the recycling industry and was supervised by Dr Martin Rudolph and Professor Urs Peuker (TU Bergakademie Freiberg). In addition to the “Prix AILg TFE”, she received the “Prix Jeunes de la Sim” by the society of the French mineral industry.
Lithium ion batteries are crucial for pure and hybrid electric vehicles as well as for portable electronics like cellular phones and notebook computers. They are composed of cobalt, lithium, graphite and other materials, some of which are considered critical by the EU. In her thesis, Anna Vanderbruggen investigated the characterization and beneficiation of pyrolyzed black mass, which is the powder from burning and crushing the batteries. The aim was to separate graphite from cathode lithium metal oxides by flotation in order to reuse the product for the production of new batteries. At the moment, the recycling industry is only focusing on the valuable metals from the batteries. As a matter of fact, graphite recycling could reduce the dependence on importing the substance from China as well as providing a solution to meet the future demand of battery grade graphite. What is more, the research could bring about an innovative and useful process for the recycling industry.
Rosie Blannin originates from the United Kingdom where she graduated in geology from Imperial College London. In the following EMerald master project supervised by Dr Jens Gutzmer, Dr Sandra Birtel and Laura Tusa she cooperated with a mining company on the exploration of a porphyry copper-gold deposit in Romania. She investigated the mineral distribution of copper and gold in the deposit as well as the association of the two metals. Her thesis also includes a suggestion for the processing of the ore as well as the economic feasibility of the method.
EMerald is a two-year master program organized by four European Universities (University of Liège, University of Lorraine, Lulea University of Technology and TU Bergakademie Freiberg) and designed to focus on the characterization, processing, modelling and management of resources. Five of the nineteen graduates carried out their master theses at HIF in 2018. Next year, there will be three new Emerald students in Freiberg.