Sustainable resource management via D.C. thermal plasma technology

Keeley, Peter Michael (2018). Sustainable resource management via D.C. thermal plasma technology. University of Birmingham. Eng.D.

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The recovery of metals from secondary resources is increasing to alleviate supply risks associated with primary sources. Thermal plasma is widely used for platinum group metal recovery from automotive catalysts, but the mixing of various catalyst types makes their processing difficult. It was found that it was possible to separate silicon carbide based catalysts from cordierite based catalysts by a combination of magnetic and electrostatic separation processes resulting in a cordierite fraction of over 98 % purity, which would result in a more consistent feed material to the plasma process enhancing metal recovery. The flexibility of plasma means that the operational conditions in the furnace can be controlled to suit the chemistry of less noble metals such as rhenium and drive gas phase reactions. The technology was used to recover platinum and rhenium from spent petrochemical catalysts via a novel pyrometallurgical process with over 98 % recovery efficiencies of both metals. The plasma process produces a large amount of slag as a by-product which can be used in higher value applications to avoid waste and improve business models. Plasma derived slag was shown to be an effective, low carbon cement replacement which can potentially obtain a market value of £50/tonne.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Eng.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Eng.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Chemical Engineering
Funders: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Subjects: T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
T Technology > TP Chemical technology


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