Research

RESEARCH OVERVIEW

Areas of Interest

  • Recycling; Urban Mining; Technospheric Mining; Waste Valorization
  • Energy Storage Devices – Next Generation of Rechargeable Batteries (Al-ion)
  • Advanced Materials Design and Fabrication; Sensors and Filters; Functional Surfaces; Hydrophobicity

Materials of Interest

  • Rare Earth Elements (REEs)
  • Platinum Group Elements (PGMs)
  • Iron and Steel
  • Lithium
  • Aluminum

Processes of Interest

  • Supercritical Fluid Extraction
  • Molten Electrolysis
  • Electrodialysis
  • Hydrometallurgy
  • Solvent Extraction
  • Electrochemistry


Extraction and Recycling of Strategic Materials

One of the missions of our research program is “developing innovative supercritical, hydrometallurgical, and electrochemical processes for extraction, processing, and recycling of strategic materials, including rare earth elements, lithium, platinum group metals, and iron”.

Rare earth elements have unique physicochemical properties that make them indispensable in many emerging critical and green innovations, which includes wind turbines, solid oxide fuel cells, hybrid and electric vehicles, and catalysts, as well as portable electronics, and medical devices.

The demand for REEs is increasing steeply, and some are classified under critical materials, that is, those that are essential in use and subject to supply risk. Platinum group metals are rare, expensive metals with unique catalytic properties that are one of the main components of automotive catalytic convertors. Lithium is widely used in lithium-ion batteries: the next generation of automotive industry. The demand for Li is surpassing its supply, so it is classified under strategic materials. Iron and steel are the number one construction material in the world and finding less carbon intensive processes for their extraction is highly of interest.

Here is a list of our current projects in this domain:

  • Recycling of REEs from postconsumer products including: 1) electric and hybrid car batteries; 2) permanent magnets; and 3) automotive catalytic convertors.
  • Extraction of REEs from industrial byproducts, including: 1) phosphogypsum; 2) bauxite residue (red mud); and 3) metallurgical slags.
  • Recycling of lithium from lithium-ion batteries.
  • Developing innovative primary extraction processes for lithium.
  • Recycling of PGMs from automotive catalytic convertors and metallurgical slags.
  • High temperature electrolysis for iron extraction and steel refining.


Development of a Next Generation of Rechargeable Batteries

The second mission of our group is “the development of a next generation of batteries that are more efficient, safe, cost effective, and robust in comparison with commercially available batteries including Li-ion battery”.


Development of Advanced Materials

The third mission of our group is “the design and fabrication of advanced materials with controlled properties including hydrophobicity (non-wetting), scale-resistivity, and transparency”.

These materials can be used to design batteries, electrodes, sensors, membranes, self-cleaning surfaces to benefit a wide range of industries from thermal and solar power generation to batteries to desalination to hydrometallurgy by increasing their efficiency and lowering their initial and/or operating costs.

Here is a list of our current projects in this domain:

  • Development of functional materials for solid phase extraction.
  • Development of robust materials for high-temperature applications.
  • Fundamental investigation of wetting properties of rare earth oxide ceramics.


If you are interested in any of these topics, please contact us.