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2020 SUMA
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Summer School "Digitizing the circular economy'', 13-16 July 2020, Leuven, Belgium

Metallurgy is a key enabler of a circular economy (CE), its digitalization is the metallurgical Internet of Things (m-IoT). In short: Metallurgy is at the heart of a CE, as metals all have strong intrinsic recycling potentials. Process metallurgy, as a key enabler for a CE, will help much to deliver its goals. The first-principles models of process engineering help quantify the resource efficiency (RE) of the CE system, connecting all stakeholders via digitalization. This provides well-argued and first-principles environmental information to empower a tax paying consumer society, policy, legislators, and environmentalists. It provides the details of capital expenditure and operational expenditure estimates. Through this path, the opportunities and limits of a CE, recycling, and its technology can be estimated. The true boundaries of sustainability can be determined in addition to the techno-economic evaluation of RE. The integration of metallurgical reactor technology and systems digitally, not only on one site but linking different sites globally via hardware, is the basis for describing CE systems as dynamic feedback control loops, i.e., the m-IoT. It is the linkage of the global carrier metallurgical processing system infrastructure that maximizes the recovery of all minor and technology elements in its associated refining metallurgical infrastructure.

This course will illustrate some of these concepts with hands-on training using a process simulator.

The course will by practical simulation cases flowsheet circular economy systems and then use environmental analysis to footprint solutions as shown by the figure below. Various details of the course are discussed in http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11663-016-0735-5
and https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-matsci-070218-010057

The course participants will after this course have been exposed among others to:

  • Flowsheeting of physical separation, metallurgical and recycling systems by hands-on use of simulation software (HSC Sim) – various systems will be explored
  • Evaluation of the resource efficiency of these flowsheets e.g. using exergy, LCA tools etc. thus linking simulation and foot-printing.
  • The students acquire knowledge about the use of English terms in non-ferrous process metallurgy as well as physical recycling in addition to design for recycling.

Course leader: prof. Markus Reuter (Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology)

Study load: 3 ECTS


Target group

Students that want to make a change by fundamentally understanding the CE system. Systemic thinkers that want to understand Circular Economy Engineering in the context of process metallurgy, recycling and design for recycling will find this valuable. Therefore, metallurgical knowledge, process engineering as well as simulation interest would be valuable. Exposure to the economics of engineering systems will also help to develop the case studies in this course.

The details


13 – 16 July, 2020


KU Leuven, Belgium


KU Leuven and EIT Raw Materials SUMA Master programmes


Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology

Entry Requirements

We invite students interested in the field of materials engineering to apply for the Summer School.

Potential candidates are requested to fill out the application form and to provide any relevant documentation. The documents to be included in the application are:
CV (maximum of two A4 pages) (mandatory)
A motivation letter (why the participant wishes to be part of the Summer School and what are the expectations)



Day 1: Overview of concepts and introduction to cases to be solved with the simulation tools

Day 2 to 3: Hands-on completion of a case from aluminium scrap recycling of different scrap qualities to produce different aluminium alloys on the basis of energy, energy and material recovery as well as environmental footprint.

Day 4: Analysis of results and recommendation (if time permits completion of an own example)


The Summer School is organised by the EIT RawMaterials project IMAGINE. Should you have any further question, please contact the education manager Katarzyna Janusz (katarzyna.janusz@kuleuven.be).

We offer scholarships to a maximum of 20 selected students. The following is included:

  • A private room in a university residence (check in 12/07, check out 17/07; towels and sheets are available),
  • Catering during the summer school (coffee break in the morning and afternoon, + sandwich lunch),
  • One summer school dinner,
  • Summer school course materials,
  • Reimbursement of travel expenses up to maximum 300 euro ONLY upon presentation of original invoices.


Participants from the European Economic Area are expected to travel with their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC); participants from outside the EEA will be registered at the university (costs are covered). Those persons needing an official invitation letter in order to obtain a visa to attend the summer school may contact us specifying the necessary details. The letter of invitation does not financially obligate the summer school organisers in any way.

Travel & Accommodation

More information will follow.

Reflections on Summer School 2018: “To mine or not to mine?”

On September 10-12, 2018, the Summer School “To mine or not to mine – A multi-criteria assessment of the landfill mining of municipal and industrial solid waste deposits” took place in Leuven, Belgium. The summer school was a joint initiative of the EU Horizon 2020 ETN NEW-MINE and ETN SOCRATES projects, in collaboration with the EIT RawMaterials IMAGINE programme. 43 MSc/PhD students and professionals of 23 different nationalities participated. Here we reflect on three days of interactive sessions, learning about multi-criteria assessment of landfill mining and resource recovery projects (LM, 11/10/2018)

Summer school group photo 2

Background for Summer School

Resource scarcity, climate change and increased pressure on environment and health necessitate the transition from a fossil-based, linear economy to a low-carbon, circular economy.  What was considered as waste in the past, becomes a resource for tomorrow. Increasing attention is given to the possibility of mining and/or reprocessing of municipal and industrial solid waste deposits (see ELFM-video April 2018). But is it really feasible to mine these secondary deposits? Do we have the appropriate technology? Is it economically feasible to do this? Does the mining of these deposits indeed contribute to a safer environment and health situation? Does it lead to a new CO2 reductions? And do people want a mining project “in their backyard”?

The Summer School aimed at offering an integral approach for the assessment of landfill mining projects, going beyond technical assessment, offering an approach to determine the value of landfill mining from an economic, environmental, social, policy and business perspective. In three sessions, the participants were trained in different aspects of the assessment of ELFM projects.

Session 1 – “Multi-criteria assessment of Enhanced Landfill Mining Projects – An interdisciplinary training programme for ELFM projects”

This session was organised by the NEW-MINE project, focussing on municipal solid waste containing landfills and applying concepts being developed within the project by the PhD students In an introductory lecture, Karel Van Acker (KU Leuven, Belgium) introduced the requirement of a holistic approach to decide on a particular landfill management type.

For the assessment of landfill mining case-studies, three scenarios were introduced, being a (1) “do-nothing scenario”, i.e. no landfill mining, combined with mitigating the impact of a landfill through permanent monitoring of surface and ground water combined with water treatment and gas capturing; (2) Classic remediation, i.e., excavation of a landfill combined with re-landfilling in a sanitary landfill and/or incineration of the light fraction of the landfill; (3) Enhanced Landfill Mining – as studied in the NEW-MINE project, in which mining is combined with the aim of maximising recovery of resources from the landfill.

Following the introductory lecture, different aspects of the assessment were introduced. Steven Van Passel (University of Antwerp and Hasselt University, Belgium) introduced the techno-economic assessment of landfill mining projects, while Niclas Svensson (Linköping University, Sweden), introduced the life-cycle assessment of landfill mining projects. Subsequently, Johan Springael. (University of Antwerp, Belgium) gave an introduction to Multicriteria Decision Analysis, in which techno-economic, environmental and socio-economic aspects (including the so-called social licence to operate) are combined to come to motivate a decision on which landfill management approach to select.

Session 2 – “Industrial flowsheeting and thermo-economic assessment”

Session 2 was organised by the SOCRATES project. SOCRATES studies the development of near-zero waste processes for the recycling of low-grade metal containing industrial waste streams, such as bottom ashes, copper tailings and slags and sludges from the non-ferrous industry, commonly deposited in industrial landfills and tailing ponds. Markus Reuter and Alejandro Abadias (Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany) illustrated how novel near-zero waste flowsheets for the treatment of these residues are assessed within the SOCRATES project. Focus of the session was on the primary copper production flowsheet (from rock to metal), in which two scenarios were compared, being production of copper without treatment of wastes and with additional metal recovery from wastes (slags and drosses). The analysis was performed through composing a mass and energy balance of the flowsheet and performing an exergy analysis and life cycle assessment.

Session 3 – “From the lab to the market, business development & commercialisation”

The third and final Session focussed on the steps to be taken to evolve from a lab invention to a commercial product. Two lectures were given: one by Christina Meskers (Umicore, Belgium) on the upscaling of technology throughout different technology readiness levels and the associated business case assessment at each upscaling step; A second lecture was given by Nicolas Menou (EIT RawMaterials, Belgium), focussing on creation of a start-up to exploit novel technology.

In the second part of the session, students were challenged to draft a pitch on the commercialisation of 2 technologies selected from the SOCRATES and NEW-MINE projects. For each technology, 4 groups competed for the best company idea. Two groups were selected as winners; i.e. the company “Rotten Tomatoes”, exploiting sensor-based sorting technology from the NEW-MINE project for sorting of tomatoes, and the group InCLeach, exploiting chloride leaching technology from the SOCRATES project for the near zero-waste recycling of low-grade residues.


  • The NEW-MINE project has received funding from the European Union’s EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No 721185.
  • The SOCRATES project has received funding from the European Union’s EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No 721385.
  • The EIT RawMaterials IMAGINE programme received funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, under the Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.


Please send your application via the application portal

Application deadline: 30 April, 2020

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