CSIRO helped Sydney-based business Intec overcome technical challenges and explore a new opportunity to recycle metals from waste.
Recovering metals from industrial waste
Intec is a growing small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) and a world leader in chloride hydrometallurgy. Part of the company’s success can be attributed to their innovative process, which uses brine to extract and produce high-grade commodity metals from mineral feedstocks for sale in Australia and overseas.
In recent years, Intec has shifted its metal recovery focus from traditional mineral feedstocks to industrial waste. This new focus led Intec’s Corporate Development Manager Dave Sammut to investigate an opportunity to recover rare earths – including neodymium and dysprosium – from waste using their existing process.
“We had determined that we could efficiently use the Intec Process to extract neodymium and dysprosium. However, the resultant leach solution needed further purifying in order to be saleable and it was something that we needed external assistance with,” Mr Sammut said. After spending time and money engaging with a consultant who was unable to identify a suitable researcher, Mr Sammut felt like he had ran out of options.
Researchers in the business
“That same week, I coincidentally received a call from Jim Grigoriou at CSIRO’s Small and Medium Enterprise Engagement Centre. After I explained our technical problem, Jim investigated our options and came back the next day to say CSIRO had the perfect guy for the project – it all kicked off from there.”
Intec engaged a team of CSIRO researchers and after just three months, the team produced high-purity neodymium and dysprosium oxide products.
Producing high quality commodity metals
- The team exceeded project goals by producing neodymium and dysprosium oxide products of 99 per cent purity.
- “The CSIRO team showed a good understanding of the context of their research work and offered it on a commercial basis that was realistic for industry,” said Mr Sammut.
This project was supported by the Enterprise Connect Researchers in Business program, which was an Australian Government initiative which provided funding to support the placement of researchers directly into businesses to help them develop and implement new commercial ideas.
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