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Subject of the postdoc

Understanding metal-ionic liquid interaction for the recovery of precious metals from electric and electronic equipments

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Published on 24 November 2020
A 12 months post-doctoral position is offered at CEA-IRIG in the framework of an ANR project EE4Precious (Electroleaching-Electrodeposition For the recovery of Precious metals from electric and electronic equipments) involving four complementary partners from university (IJL, LRGP), research (CEA) and industry (Terra Nova Development). EE4Precious project, based on fundamental and applied aspects, aims at developing a soft chemical alternative to the current toxic/harmful ones for efficient recovery and separation of Precious Metals (PM) with possible beneficiation of less precious metals (LPM) e.g. Ag from waste electrical and electronic equipments (WEEE).  

Precious metals (PM: Au, Pt, Pd) from primary or secondary resources are currently produced through complex extraction processes using corrosive, hazardous reagents, and with emissions of toxic gases. EE4Precious aims at developing a soft chemical alternative for recovery of these strategic metals from waste electrical and electronic equipments (WEEE) with a focus on printed circuit boards (PCBs). With a growing production, WEEE are far metal-richer than primary resources. They represent an enormous economic potential and an environmental asset for the preservation of resources.
As demonstrated by the team, effective separation of metals can be achieved in an electrochemical cell, with anodic leaching and deposition of pure metal at the cathode (EE process) [1]. For PM, ionic liquids (IL), coordinating solvents with high electrochemical stability, can effectively replace aqueous solutions of harmful complexants, as shown by the recovery of Pt from spent fuel cells by EE in a mixture of LI by IJL and CEA [2].
The CEA/IRIG/SyMMES is a major player in the field of advanced characterization of nanostructured materials for energy applications and CEA/LITEN/DTNM has strong experience in hydrometallurgical processes for PM recovery from WEEE and recycling of energy converter components.
The applicative objectives require identification of IL phases exhibiting suitable dissolution and corrosion properties, which depend on the interactions between the metal to be extracted and the IL.

A macroscopic to molecular scale approach will allow a deep understanding of the behavior of metals in the IL environment. The objective is to allow a comprehensive understanding of the reacting media, i.e. the metal species to be treated and their ionic environment. This covers the measurement media bulk properties (viscosity, conductivity etc), local and long-range arrangements of ionic species using advanced analytical and spectroscopic techniques (SAXS, NMR –HOESY, UV-vis, ICP-AES, EXAFS-XANES, in collaboration with IJL...) and metal speciation. The cross-correlation of these data sources will lead to physically significant laws for the properties of the IL phase.

Hosting team
The post-doc will be hosted at CEA-IRIG-SyMMES, which has a renowned activity in multi-scale characterization of the structure/transport interplay of nanostructured materials for energy (IRIG/SyMMES) [3]. The work will be developed in tight collaboration with the CEA-LITEN-DTNM team, with expertise in and waste treatment applications. He/She will take benefit of the complementary of the consortium [2].

Candidate profile
The post doctorate fellow will be in charge of performing basic and advanced characterization on IL media. She/He will analyze and interpret the data, interact with physicists and chemists of two laboratories of CEA (IRIG and LITEN). The candidate, a soft matter physico-chemist, must have an excellent knowledge of electrochemistry and IL media. Scientific backgrounds in rheology and/or scattering techniques would be greatly appreciated. Good communication skills will be important to allow the synergy between the various actors involved in the project.

Please join a CV, a cover letter and two recommendation letters. Start date: early June.

Phone: 33(0)4 38 78 91 71

Dr. Emmanuel BILLY
Phone : 33(0)4 38 78 05 07

[1] Guillaume P. et al., J. Haz. Mat. 152 (2008) 85-92 ; Hazotte C. et al., Chem. Eng. Proc. 96 (2015) 83-93; Hydrometallurgy 162 (2016) 94-103
[2] Balva M. et al., ChemSusChem 10 (2017) 2922-2935; Leclerc N. et al., Metals 8 (2018) Art. n°556 ; Billy E. et al., Procédé de récupération du platine par voie électrochimique à partir d’un matériau dans lequel il est contenu, FR-16 56293, CNRS/UL/CEA 2016
[3] D. Bresser et al., ChemSusChem, (2020) Huynh et al., J. Power Sources, 462 (2020) 228164/V. Delhorbe et al., Macromolecules 50 (2017)