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SPIRE-07-2015 - Recovery technologies for metals and other minerals

Specific challenge:Metals and other minerals, such as non-ferrous and ferrous metals, ceramics, glass, cement and chemicals are utilised in numerous applications in many industrial sectors. Their demand, in particular those used in specialised applications, will increase in the coming years. Because of their increasing importance or economic value, a key issue is the development of processes for an effective and efficient recovery of these materials, from primary sources or from waste streams of the current industrial processes. Novel integrated recovery processes should result in increased resource efficiency and sustainability for the European industry, allowing the recovery of significant amount of metals and other minerals, even from low concentration streams. This should lower the dependency on imports of these materials, sheltering Europe from possible shortages in supply and reducing production costs and environmental impacts.

Major improvements in separation processes are needed to achieve an efficient and cost effective recovery from the different streams in the process industries.

Scope: new approaches combining several existing techniques (e.g. precipitation, adsorption, extraction, physical or biological treatment and separation) or new alternative solutions could provide a cost-effective way to achieve major improvements in the efficiency of recovery operations for metals and other minerals, leading to waste reduction and minimising the environmental impact of industrial operations.

The proposed solutions should also have potential for integration in the current industrial scenario, and should be suitable for different sectors in the process industry. It is essential to consider the compatibility of the technologies with currently existing plants, taking into consideration the capital -intensive nature of some industrial sectors involved.

Demonstration activities should focus in the following research areas:

-                   Innovative technologies for minerals and metals treatment from solid, gaseous and/or liquid waste streams.

-                   Development of new approaches for the design and scale up of industrial processes. In particular, these innovative approaches should regard the primary process and the downstream separation as one single, integrated process aimed at designs that maximise not only productivity, but also resource efficiency.

-                   The proposed solutions should be easily integrated with the currently existing plants/technologies, taking into account the capital intensive nature of some relevant industrial sectors, providing tools for the design of such units and their integration with primary processes.

The projects selected under this topic are expected to carry out demonstration activities in industrial environments aimed at proving the industrial relevance and feasibility of the proposed technologies.

For this topic, proposals should include an outline of the initial exploitation and business plans, which will be developed further in the proposed project.

Wherever possible, proposers could actively seek synergies, including possibilities for funding, with relevant national / regional research and innovation programmes and/or cumulative funding with European Structural and Investment Funds in connection with smart specialisation strategies. For this purpose the tools provided by the Smart Specialization Platform, Eye@RIS3 may be useful[1]. The initial exploitation and business plans will address such synergies and/or additional funding. Exploitation plans, outline financial arrangements and any follow-up will be developed further during the project. The results of these activities as well as the envisaged further activities in this respect should be described in the final report of the project.


Activities expected to focus on Technology Readiness Levels 5-7. A significant participation of SMEs with R&D capacities is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 6 and 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

                Proof of economic and industrial feasibility for the proposed technologies in the process industries and showing the real potential for reducing dependency from imports. In addition, the technologies are expected contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

                Life Cycle and Cost Assessments for the technologies developed.

                Significant impact on the resource efficiency of industrial sectors leading to a 40% increase in recovery of materials suitable for reprocessing compared to conventional processes.

                Enhanced sustainable industrial processes, shorter time to market and higher production capacity.

                Cross-sectorial knowledge and technology transfer.

                Contribute to achieving the objectives of the EIP on Raw Materials.

Type of action: Innovation Actions.

[1]; the relevant Managing Authorities can be found at