PGM Catalyst Use & Recycling Seminar

The European Chapter of the IPMI organised a Seminar in Amsterdam, on 7-8 November 2016, on "PGM Catalyst Use & Recycling". More than 100 participants followed 11 presentations over 2 half-days, which were given in the beautiful Saint Olof’s chapel (the oldest chapel in Amsterdam, built 1440-50, which serves as conference centre for the NH Barbizon Palace Hotel).

Junlu Liang (Metalsfocus) presented the first paper on Current trends and outlook for PGM autocatalyst recycling, showing how the autocatalyst recycling of Pt and Pd has grown over the last 10 years compared to mine production.

Mike Belton focused on Primary PGM Production in Southern Africa.With 70% of world Pt production and a large mineral reserve, South Africa enjoys a central role in PGMs supplies, but faces at the same time important challenges with raising power prices, labour unrest and impairments charges for mining companies.


Two refiners followed on the stage.

Lynda Sy-Ahmed introduced Metalor Technologies activities on spent PGM catalysts recycling. With its facilities in Americas, Europe and Asia, the company is able to handle the PGM wastes issued from heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysts of fine chemical, pharmaceuticals and agrochemical industries locally, thus limiting the exposure and paperwork of the suppliers.  


Angela Alderman (Johnson Matthey) detailed Moving Precious Metals procedures. Mastering the European Waste Classification is a must in this business, as well as understanding the differences between Green wastes and Amber materials requiring specific procedures.

The last presentation of the day was by Ross Strachan (Thomson Reuters) on Future catalyst trends & Implications for PGM usage. Although 6 emission stages (Euro I to Euro VI) already allowed to reduce NOx and PM generation by over 97%, the growth in vehicle production and stricter legislations still call for development of Pt and Pd catalysts and higher precious metal loadings. With 37% of Chinese vehicles and 68% of all off-road heavy-duty vehicles having no installed aftertreatment, the PGM usage for autocatalyst looks promising.


The day ended with a cocktail followed by a beautiful dinner - in the same Chapel - prepared at the kitchen of a Michelin-starred restaurant, offering a rather unusual quality for a seminar. After the wine tastings in London, the European Chapter has set some very high standards on food and drinks!


On Tuesday morning, Cynthia Hollingsworth (Inspectorate) presented Developing a Commercial Testing Procedure for Spent Auto Catalyst. Quantification of Pt, Pd and Rh can be readily done by a pyrometallurgical process using gold as collector, followed by ICP-OES analysis after mineralisation of that gold. With the use of reference materials and participation of round robins, Inspectorate can offer the highest quality of analysis in that field.

Frank Fassbender, consultant for recycling technology and the catalytic converter recycling industry (k2fconsult), introduced how Effective Grinding and Sampling could be done. Fully automated solutions are available, which allows to process large quantities of waste with a minimum of human intervention.

In a very colourful paper, Willem van Kooten (Bru Tech) presented where PGM catalysts could be lost between their production and their evaluation for recycling. With sometimes the percentage of this loss being a double-digit one, it is not surprising that catalyst owners are sensitive on that matter! Losses can arise at multiple stages, including during preparation of the catalyst, loading and unloading, attrition during the catalyst usage, sampling and analysis...


Alexey Kornienko presented R&D Park, a research facility for technology development and its transfer to industrial partners, employing 55 scientists and working among other domains in hydro-, pyro-, electro- metallurgy & refining. R&D Park proposes unique collaborative R&D solutions for companies which have to fill a gap in their own R&D. As an example of collaborative R&D, a technology for PGM autocatalyst leaching was offered as alternative approach to smelting.


A joined-paper was prepared by Oliver Krestin (Hensel Recycling) & Pär Rosendahl (Arc Metal AB) on SiC – Diesel Particulate Filters. A challenge for Autocatalyst smelters. The level of carbon in smelter feed is getting increasingly problematic, and SiC needs to be oxidized to SiO2 and CO2 - while smelters usually operated under reducing conditions! Currently, penalties are applied for carbon content, but new technologies have to be developed to cope with the higher amounts of carbon expected in the future.

Finally, the seminar ended with Graham Couzens, who showed how a complex moving to a new thermal pre treatment facility in Buxton was performed by Mastermelt. This operation was done in close collaboration with the UK Environmental Agency, leading to the doubling of the pre treatment capacity