Interview with Alexandros Charitos, Director of the Institute for Nonferrous Metallurgy and Purest Materials (INEMET) of the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, and Lesia Sandig-Predzymirska, Research Assistant at INEMET

Q: Which materials INEMET foresee to recycle?

A: We will mainly focus on the recovery of critical raw materials from the spent electrodes in the proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers. The core of a PEM electrolyser is a membrane electrode assembly, which consists of the conducting membrane, gas diffusion layers (GDLs), and the electrode layers situated between the membrane and GDL. These electrode layers contain considerable amounts of platinum group metals such as Platinum, Ruthenium, and Iridium which will be recycled within RECYCALYSE. In this respect, INEMET has a wealth of experience in the extraction and recycling of precious metal-based materials by hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical processes.


Q: What is the main innovation behind this and why is it important?

A: The new recycling strategy will be developed depending on the composition of the novel catalysts and carrier materials synthesized by the RECYCALYSE project partners. The combination of pyro- and hydrometallurgical steps will be applied for the effective separation and recovery of the valuable materials. Furthermore, it is targeted to recover platinum group metals in a mixture that can be directly reused as a catalyst for electrode production. In this way, the developed recycling scheme will enable the circular economy, in which the valuable metals will be recovered and reused, decreasing the dependence on the critical raw materials imports.