Press Release of April 11, 2023

Metallurgical research on critical raw materials receives significant boost

Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology receives plasma furnace to develop new and optimize existing recycling technologies for a better Circular Economy

Foto: Plasmaofen für metallurgische Forschungsaktivitäten ©Copyright: Tetronics Technologies Limited

Plasma furnace for metallurgical research activities

Source: Tetronics Technologies Limited


The department of process metallurgy of the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) focuses on the energy and recycling challenges. It deals with the designing, development and linking of metallurgical process chains and systems. These approaches can provide balanced material and energy requirements, mitigated energy losses and environmental impact of the Circular Economy system. To expand the metallurgical research activities the institute of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) receives a plasma furnace from the British company Tetronics for treatment of metallurgical ores & secondary resources.

Plasma furnace for metallurgical research activities © Tetronics Technologies Limited
A plasma furnace is a melting furnace with plasma torch. The plasma gas creates a furnace atmosphere with thermal conditions, especially for melting and remelting of iron, steel and non-ferrous metals with a high degree of purity. The HIF receives a Twin Electrode Plasma Furnace (TEPF) based on proven, patented technology, specifically designed to be versatile and robust. The design provides essential flexibility to HIF to enable any one of three modes of operation in their research and experimentation for the reduction, refining and valorisation especially of slags from metallurgical processes. The plasma furnace will be delivered, installed and commissioned during 2023 by Tetronics. The British company is a world leader in plasma arc systems focused on decarbonising challenging industrial processes, supply its proprietary plasma furnace technology. That´s the base for HIF’s research on the reduction, refining and valorisation of metallurgical waste products, as well the treatment of primary ores and concentrates. Tetronics will be responsible for the design and manufacture of the plasma furnace system, supervision of its installation and commissioning, and for operator instruction and training.

Plasma technology enriches raw materials research landscape

“This plasma technology-based installation and tailor-made experimental capabilities will make it one of the unique facilities in the European raw materials research landscape. With pressing challenges of circular economy implementation and climate impact mitigation, and responsibility of technology developments and roll-out needed to meet the ambitious goals of the European critical raw materials act, it will be a strong tool for our own researchers and partners”, Prof. Dr. Jens Gutzmer, Director of HIF at HZDR, classifies the new research facility. Dr. Ajay Patil, leader of the department for process metallurgy at HIF stresses that “the plasma furnace will be used for developing novel critical raw materials technologies and optimizing the existing ones, which are struggling with cost and environmental impact constraints using HIF’s expertise in hydro and pyrometallurgy”.

Graeme Rumbol, Chief Executive of Tetronics, says: “We are truly excited to be selected by such a highly respected research organisation as HZDR. As the world transitions from products and processes powered by centralised fossil-fuel plants to cleaner sources, produced and stored locally, the demand for critical minerals is increasing exponentially. We are especially proud to be partnering with leading researchers at HZDR, and other global institutions, to increase the understanding, availability and sustainability of new metallurgical solutions to pressing environmental problems.”

About Tetronics:

Tetronics is the most experienced plasma company in the world. It is founded on five decades of R&D and 127 patents (granted and pending), with over 20 years of operational expertise, across more than 97 global reference sites. The majority of these existing applications are in resource recovery and hazardous material treatment from challenging waste streams, including automotive or industrial catalysts. In addition, its technology is used in decarbonisation of heat intensive manufacturing processes – such as steel, glass and cement.

Project recomine-Plasma, Funding number: 03WIR19IL1 at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Further Information:

Dr. Ajay B. Patil | Head of the Department Process Metallurgy
Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology at HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260 4411 | Email:

Graeme Rumbol | Chief Executive Officer
Tetronics Technologies Limited
Phone: +44 1793 379229 | Email:

Press Contact:

Anne-Kristin Jentzsch | Press Officer
Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology at HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260 4429 | Email: