Centre for Materials Research

Materials Centre awarded new EPSRC grant for SonoCat project

An image of the UKRI Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Cuncil logoProfessor Andy Abbott, Professor Karl Ryder and Professor Gawen Jenkin have been awarded a new EPSRC grant for their research project, 'Technology critical metal recycling using ultrasonics and catalytic etchants' (SonoCat). 

The demand for Technology Critical Metals is growing and they are fundamental enablers of most major applications throughout industry and especially in clean energy and digital technologies, and they are essential for the world to decarbonise. As the UK is currently 100% import-reliant on TCMs it is essential to recycle these metals and develop a circular economy. However, such metals are diffusely distributed and maintaining value is difficult with current non-selective hydrometallurgical techniques. This 3 year project will carry out research into the use of targeted, catalytic etchants which can control the redox state of Technology Critical Metals from complex architectures. Targeting layered structures, particularly those of significant value to industries such as aerospace or wind renewables, the team will aim to combine catalytic etchants with ultrasonic techniques to bring about almost instantaneous separation and enable selective, fast-throughput processes to be developed. Therefore, the SonoCat project aims to develop a range of sustainable, inexpensive catalysts which can preferably be regenerated using air emulating what is done in a biological and geological environment.

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