To secure a future metal supply is one of Europe’s biggest challenges

The European Commission has identified a number of metals as critical for its industry and the employment. Those metals that are essential for high-tech and green development as well as defence applications but availability is fluctuating due to politically and economically driven factors.

Valuable metals end up as waste and environmental threats

Ironically, metals of a high economic value end up in low technology applications. They are being landfilled or ends up in hazardous waste, posing threat to the environment and health.

It is estimated that fly ash from waste-to-energy plants produced annually in Europe, contains metals of the value of 600 million euro. Another promising resource of high-value metals is red mud, a by-product of the aluminium industry that is considered to be hazardous and has been involved in environmental incidents.

The reason for not exploiting resources like ashes and red mud is that the metals are present at low concentrations and in complex matrices.

BIOMIMIC aims to find solutions

With its unique multidisciplinary consortium of problem-owning and end-user industries, innovators and researchers the BIOMIMIC project aims to solve the challenge of extracting these metals, while leaving the remaining material free from toxic substances.

The project will explore naturally occurring bioprocesses, namely biosulfide precipitation and biosorption. It will employ beyond state-of-the-art innovations in microorganism mixtures and reactor design which is expected to increase the rate of these typically slow biotechnological methods.

 

The expected impacts of BIOMIMIC:

  • Pushing the EU to the forefront of sustainable processing technologies
  • Improving competitiveness through creation of added value and new jobs
  • Creating value of raw materials currently landfilled enabling better efficiency of exploitation of raw materials’ resources
  • Increasing the range and yields of recovered raw materials (including water and energy consumption) leading to reduced environmental footprint.

BIOMIMIC objectives

The project’s objectives are all linked to selected objectives of the call:

Recycling of raw materials from complex products

O1. Recover Zn, Iron oxide and CRM targeting 90% recovery and 56% purity as sulfides from complex waste material in municipal solid waste and red mud using leaching and bio reduction and/or biosorption.

O3. Utilize cell biomass from the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803 and Miscanthus Biochar as a tool for biosorption of low level metal wastes with high pH and salts including fly ash leachate and residues from the alumina processing industry (TRL 5). EPS adsorption property will be enhanced by up to 150% by gene-manipulation.

Overcome metallurgical and especially extractive metallurgy challenges

O1. Recover Zn, Iron oxide and CRM targeting 90% recovery and 56% purity as sulfides from complex waste material in municipal solid waste and red mud using leaching and bio reduction and/or biosorption .

O3. Utilize cell biomass from the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803 and Miscanthus Biochar as a tool for biosorption of low level metal wastes with high pH and salts including fly ash leachate and residues from the alumina processing industry (TRL 5). EPS adsorption property will be enhanced by up to 150% by gene-manipulation.

O4. Reduce the risk of investment by understanding the complexity and nature of EPS from a structural perspective; quantifying the responds of relevant variables on SRB behaviour and biosorption mechanism through factorial design and descriptive and technoeconomical models.

O5. Achieve a high involvement of stakeholders to increase the commercial reediness level, give feedback to the method development, reduce risks of investment and facilitate dissemination of the result.

Responsible and sustainable development, through increasing the raw materials supply while reducing impacts on the environment

O2. Develop a cost and energy effective bioprecipitation prototype with a novel reactor designs and microbial consortia of SRB that combines water and chemical recovery with metal recovery, validated using industrial leachates (TRL 5) and resulting in at least 1 non-disclosure application.

O6. Create economic and environmental additional benefits by reducing landfilling costs of fly ash by approx. 80 €/ton.

New business models

O1. Recover Zn, Iron oxide and CRM targeting 90% recovery and 56% purity as sulfides from complex waste material in municipal solid waste and red mud using leaching and bio reduction and/or biosorption.

O2. Develop a cost and energy effective bioprecipitation prototype with a novel reactor designs and microbial consortia of SRB that combines water and chemical recovery with metal recovery, validated using industrial leachates (TRL 5) and resulting in at least 1 non-disclosure application.

O5. Achieve a high involvement of stakeholders to increase the commercial reediness level, give feedback to the method development, reduce risks of investment and facilitate dissemination of the result.

O6. Create economic and environmental additional benefits by reducing landfilling costs of fly ash by approx. 80 €/ton.

Social acceptance and trust/public perception of raw materials

O2. Develop a cost and energy effective bioprecipitation prototype with a novel reactor designs and microbial consortia of SRB that combines water and chemical recovery with metal recovery, validated using industrial leachates (TRL 5) and resulting in at least one non-disclosure application.

O7. Create a foundation for future collaboration and technology upscaling activities to commercial scale including writing an EITRM application for upscaling process by spring 2020.

O8. Improve industrial and public perception of the processes by a dissemination module including giving feedback to the BREF documentation of “Best available technologies”, publication of scientific manuscripts, pan European press releases, one industrial and publically relevant report and input for material for a massive open online course.

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