Project duration: 1 January 2019 – 30 September 2020


H.C. Starck has developed a thermal spray decomposition of a niobium-containing solution as a new technology for the hydrometallurgical production of niobium oxides. This process is now further developed and transferred into the technical scale. Main features are significantly reduced production costs and a minimized environmental impact due to sustainable recycling of process chemicals. Until now the new thermal spray decomposition technology has been evaluated in the pilot scale. It has been shown that the new process including all related technical equipment is running stable for several hours. No essential operational problems have been observed or identified so far although highly corrosive chemicals are used in harsh process conditions.

The solution (technology)

In the next step a process scale-up must be performed, including investigations of the long-term material- and process stability as well as reproducible product quality. In summary, the most important tasks in the next project steps are upscaling, reconstruction and retrofitting of the experimental plant for the demonstration phase according to the experience gained in the pre-project, investigation of the resistance of the construction materials used in the production plant against corrosion in long-term, survey of the process reproducibility with respect to product purity, and adjustment of the product quality by mechanical post-treatment. The most important benefits of the new technology are significantly reduced production costs (up to 30%), development of new product qualities, and substantial reduction of wastewater and disposal sludge production due to sustainable and almost quantitative recycling of process chemicals.


  • H.C. Starck Tantalum and Niobium GmbH, Germany (Lead Partner)
  • AGH University of Science and Technology, Poland
  • Clausthal University of Technology, Germany
  • H. C. Starck Smelting GmbH & Co. KG, Germany