The BioLeach project will develop innovative bio-treatment of raw materials

On 13 March 2019, a new innovation project BioLeach officially kicked off at the premises of UVP TECHNICOM, led by Ing. Darina Štyriaková, PhD, Faculty of Mining, Ecology, Process Control and Geotechnologies of the Technical University of Košice.

The EIT RawMaterials funded project brings together universities, research institutions and industrial enterprises from eight European countries. Furthermore, the ekolive s.r.o. start-up supported by EIT RawMaterials is also involved in the flexible application of bio-solutions to local mineral deposits. The aim of the project is to develop biotechnologies to achieve ecological exploitation and improve the quality of local minerals. Cooperation between research and practice will ensure the transfer and application of knowledge to the industrial sector. The innovation project will result in a reduction in the European countries’ dependence on imported minerals, support for local entities and overall strengthening of the economies of the participating countries.

The BioLeach innovation project was initiated to create an impact on the local ecosystem by and along development/improvement of the technology and especially by engaging the relevant local players. Technology will be applied to local deposits to obtain raw materials appropriate for industrial utilisation. While currently used technologies are very expensive, low cost and ecological method of bioleaching is suggested. Bioleaching is an alternative way of improving deposits via the activity of bacteria, which induce changes of chemical and structural features of rocks and minerals. The challenge of the project is to improve this effective, economical and innovative method for specific local sources.

The aim of the BioLeach innovation project is also related to greater utilisation of local sources. Effective bacteria can be used industrially for treatment of metallic raw materials to extract critical raw materials, rare-earth elements and metals, but also for the treatment of non-metallic raw materials, whose commercial value is decreased by impurities limiting the area of their application. Therefore, the BioLeach project will test and evaluate local minerals as new potential sources, whose increased industrial value was obtained by bioleaching.

Improvement of efficient biotechnology, recovery of valuable components as well as refinement the features of deposits, will contribute to the regional development of Slovakia, as well as other RIS countries.

Members of the innovation project BioLeach consortium:

  • Technical University of Košice, Slovakia (Lead Partner)
  • Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, Italy
  • Bay Zoltan Nonprofit Ltd. for Applied Research, Hungary
  • Caobar, S.A., Spain
  • ekolive s.r.o., Slovakia
  • G.U.B. Ingenieur AG, Germany
  • Gomez Pardo Foundation, Spain
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf e.V. (HZDR), Germany
  • Najpi a.s., Slovakia
  • Politechnika Wroclawska, Poland
  • Sifucel – Sílicas, S.A., Portugal
  • Trinity Dublin College, Ireland
  • Universidad Politecnica de Madrid,  Spain
  • Universidade Nova de Lisboa – Faculty of Sciences and Technology (FCT NOVA), Portugal
  • Università degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca, Italy
  • Zeocem, a.s., Slovakia

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