Recycling critical metals: making catalysts from waste

Project Description

The increasing demand for metals for use in catalysts for industrial, automotive and energy generation (i.e. fuel cell) applications as well as in consumer power (batteries) and electronic devices has led to a range of transition and rare earth elements being classified as ‘critical’, reflecting their importance and relative scarcity. The need to recover and recycle these critical metals has become increasingly apparent to Industry and academia alike (e.g. the University of Birmingham has launched a Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials).

Whilst existing techniques exist for recycling, they are generally based on mid-20th century solution chemistry, and there is clearly opportunity to apply the recent developments in chemical and, specifically, electrochemical science to develop novel science and hence new approaches and methodologies.

The objectives are to add inexpensive ‘core’ particles (industrial fly-ash ‘cenospheres’, iron, or carbon powder) to industrial waste solutions containing low concentrations of critical metals, and use electrochemical methods to selectively coat the particles in one or more metals of choice from the solution to: (i) provide a method of recovering each metal without costly pre-concentration and separation steps, and (ii) fabricate catalyst particles directly from waste solutions.

Funding Information

Tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,285.00 will be available.

Eligibility Requirements

We are looking to recruit a UK/EU (due to funding restrictions) graduate (Class 1 or 2i) in chemistry, chemical engineering or closely related subject.

Application Process

If you are interested in this project please contact Dr Neil Rees [email protected] and attach your cv.

To apply for this PhD, please email

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