Optimizing the Tantalum Recycling Process through Conditioning of Raw Materials, Process Automation and Material Logistics


Project description

This project`s purpose is to develop a technology system for an existing tantalum recycling process. The components required for the system are the conditioning of raw materials, the process automation and the material logistics.

On the market of secondary raw materials, there are many different tantalum-containing materials. Some of them are already used in the tantalum recycling process by H.C. Starck GmbH and H.C. Starck Smelting GmbH & Co. KG. Due to their properties, other tantalum-containing materials (especially tantalum-containing dusts) cannot be used in the recycling process without further treatment. Therefore, the IFAD develops comminution circuits and pelletizing processes, which can be integrated into the existing process. In addition, the existing mechanical processes will be analyzed to identify possible optimization potentials.

Another focus will be on the process automation. For a suitable automation, first, it is necessary to set up and test suitable measuring systems. That way, data from the metallurgical processes can be recorded and the basis for the implementation of a process automation will be created. For this purpose, a novel measuring system (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy - LIBS) will be tested. The LIBS system operates by focusing a laser onto a small area at the surface of a sample. In the focused area, material evaporates and generates a plasma plume. When the plasma decays, it emits radiation specific to the evaporated material. The spectroscopic analysis of this laser-induced plasma light allows a qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis of the sample.

Based on various data that will be collected during the project, the metallurgical processes can be modeled. The models should improve the understanding of the processes and make the effects of the changes in the processes visible before their realization. Another focus of the project is on material flow simulation. Through this simulation bottlenecks and gaps in supply within the existing process structure can be pointed out. Also, changes in the process structure can be shown and their effects can be analyzed afterwards.

The project has a duration of three years from April 2017 onwards. During this time, the project partners will build up an understanding of the existing processes, optimization potentials will be identified and suggestions for improvement will be made. The suggestions for improvement and their effects will be investigated through modeling and simulations before they will be implemented for trials.

Joint partners

  • H.C. Starck GmbH und H.C. Starck Smelting GmbH & Co. KG (Leader)
  • Institute IME Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling, RWTH Aachen University
  • Institute for mineral and waste processing, waste disposal and geomechanics, TU Clausthal
  • Institute for Plant Engineering and Fatigue Analysis, TU Clausthal

Supported by

Supported by: EIT RawMaterials GmbH

Projectnumber: 16355

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