Transforming Metal Extraction with Water
Metals like copper and nickel are used in everything from plumbing to cell phones. Canada is a global leader in metal production; it is an integral part of our economy. However, while demand for base metals is expected to reach record levels over the next several years, supply is far from certain.
The supply of easily exploitable ores has become exhausted. New ore-bodies are more complex, difficult to process and contain more toxic impurities like arsenic. Standard industrial processing methods, which include smelting and associated sulphur-dioxide emissions, are unsuitable for these complex ores.
Dr. Edouard Asselin, Canada Research Chair in Aqueous Processing of Metals, is developing new and sustainable extraction technologies. These technologies involve dissolving metals from ores or concentrates into water-based solvents and conducting additional processing to recover high-purity metals in solid form.
Asselin is also examining aqueous (or water used as solvent) processes that would produce hard-metal coatings for applications that require special mechanical and chemical properties.
Asselin’s research will transform metal extraction and ensure vital supplies in Canada and around the world are maintained. It will also lead to the development of new applications for aqueous metal processing as well as develop new applications for aqueous processing of value-added metal products.