Captive Systems, a spin-off company of the Politecnico di Milano (Italy), has developed a technology for metals recovery, water management and treatment, in order to make the hydrometallurgical industry, competitive, environmentally sustainable and scalable.
The technology is based on the use of magnetic nanoparticles constituted of a core containing a ferromagnetic material and an outer coating containing a mixture of a lipophilic compound and a hydrophilic compound, which makes the nanoparticle stable in water and, simultaneously, capable of adsorbing/emulsifying large amounts of hydrophobic/lipophilic compounds.
This makes the particles usable as “magnetic fluids” for the removal of hydrocarbons and metal ions from wastewaters and electrolytes. The technology has been proved for the recovery of metals (precious or not metals, rare earth elements) from spent and process solutions, but also from contaminated environment; it allows to generate secondary metallic raw materials from industrial waters in an eco-sustainable process.
The main target sector for the use of magnetic fluids in metallurgy is constituted by the electroplating industry, in particular: surface treatments with wet processes and not, especially with precious metals, chemicals production for the galvanic industry and recovery of metals from e-waste, as well as the steel industry (blast furnaces and coke ovens, electric furnaces and ladle furnaces, continuous casting, rolling mills).
These sectors require efficient management of wastewater and of processing water from electroplating industry to recover metals and chemicals.
Functionalized magnetic particles for the removal of metallic compounds in water, soil, and air.
The solution proposed might be applied by plating companies involved in EIT RawMaterials, through joint development of tailored made solutions. The collaboration with these partners could be based on: 1) creation of case studies with plating companies; 2) industrial production and commercialization of the particles. This would lead to a better management of water, materials recovery and reduction of the environmental impact in the EU electroplating industry.