UQ strengthens position as a leading provider of know-how in sustainable metallurgy

1 Apr 2021

University of Queensland student, Xi Rui Wen, has received the Young Slag Scientist Award at MOLTEN21 for his contribution to creating new and sustainable metallurgy processes essential for a circular economy.

Xi’s research is aimed at bringing more recycled materials into traditional lead and copper production - which is a critical step forward for sustainable metallurgy.

“My study produces fundamental experiments that supports developing software essential for predicting the recovery of metals and energy consumption. Digital tools in the modern process control allow more flexibility which opens the window for recycling.”

“The award gives me motivation to further progress this important research area and provides confidence that my skills will be in demand,” Xi said.

The conference, held virtually for the first time in its 40-year history, brings together leading researchers and engineers to present their work and share ideas in the field of molten slags, fluxes and salts - all essential process streams for recycling and producing high-purity metals critical for electronics, batteries and electric vehicles.

At present, some materials are not being processed due to the complexity and variability of composition, for example in waste electronics. The concept of sustainable metallurgy emphasises the recycling of these materials, however, a better understanding of slag chemistry is required.

His project is part of a $6 Million Australian Research Council project led by the School of Chemical Engineering’s Pyrometallurgy Innovation Centre (PYROSEARCH) along with six international partners.

Director of PYROSEARCH, Professor Evgueni Jak, said Xi’s award is further recognition of the leadership by UQ researchers in the development of modern high-temperature processes.

“Transforming our metallurgical processing technologies, and the production of non-ferrous and critical metals are essential for the development of an ecological and economically sustainable future.”

“We need to attract more talented young people like Xi to study metals processing and recycling, and to contribute to the smooth transition to the new economy based on renewable energy,” he said.

Held once every four years, the next MOLTEN 2024 will take place in Brisbane, in recognition of UQ’s leading international role in high-temperature chemical engineering.