You are here: Home / ABOUT THE GROUP



To the website of the SOLVOMET Group – Laboratory of Metallurgical Chemistry @ KU Leuven



SOLVOMET Group Mission

The dual mission of the SOLVOMET Group is (1) to perform excellent research in metallurgical chemistry and to educate and train young researchers in this domain and (2) to support its Industrial Service Centre partners in the conceptual and practical development of more sustainable (circular, low-energy input) hydrometallurgical (and solvometallurgical) processes, which are subsequently tested using state-of-the-art lab-scale and mini-pilot-scale experimental facilities. 


SOLVOMET Group Vision

SOLVOMET’s vision is that metallurgical chemistry expertise allows to develop more efficient, eco-friendly hydrometallurgical and solvometallurgical processes to provide the critical metals that are needed for the transition to a climate-neutral society.





The SOLVOMET Group is led by Prof. Koen Binnemans. He is a full professor at the Department of Chemistry, specialised in metallurgical chemistry (circular hydrometallurgy and solvometallurgy). He has developed a core expertise in the chemistry of critical metals and solvent extraction (SX). He is author of more than 570 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, H-index = 83 with more than 30,000 citations. Within his academic career, he has been the (co)supervisor of 60 finished PhDs.

Binnemans has been the recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant (SOLCRIMET: Solvometallurgy for critical metals) and an ERC Proof of Concept Grant (SOLVOLi: Solvometallurgy for battery-grade refining of lithium).  and was the coordinator of several EU projects (FP7 ITN EREAN; H2020 ETN DEMETER, ETN REDMUD and ETN SOCRATES; HE RIA ENICON). His group is partner in multiple EU H2020/HE projects such as NEMO, CROCODILE, TARANTULA, SEA4VALUE, ENICON and HEPHAESTUS.

Together with Dr. Peter Tom Jones, he was the co-founder of the SOLVOMET Industrial Service Centre for circular hydrometallurgy and solvometallurgy. He is also the main responsible of the Research Line “Sustainable metallurgical processes” in the KU Leuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals (SIM²). 

He was a Steercom Member of the European Rare Earth Competency Network (ERECON) and of the Scientific Council of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK-CEN).  He is an elected member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB). 



The SOLVOMET Group, also referred to as SOLVOMET, entails (1) the SOLVOMET Lab, joining all activities on an academic level, and (2) the SOLVOMET Industrial Service Centre, which is the valorisation and exploitation vehicle of SOLVOMET, joining all industry-focused activities, including bilateral, regional and European projects. The organisational structure of SOLVOMET is depicted below.


SOLVOMET Group Structure

As the General Coordinator (GC), Prof. dr. Koen Binnemans is in charge of the overall coordination of the SOLVOMET Group as a whole, assisted by dr. ir. Peter Tom Jones as the Exploitation Manager (EM) for project and business development and IP management. In order to make strategic decisions, SOLVOMET has installed a Management Board (MB), which consists of Prof. dr. Koen Binnemans, dr. ir. Peter Tom Jones, dr. Clio Deferm (Research Manager), dr. Lieven Machiels (Research Manager), dr. Sofía Riaño (Research Expert Solvent Extraction and Upscaling), Elisabeth De Decker (Financial administrative manager) and Giorgian Dinu (Software/IT developer and EU project manager). 

The MB discusses the overall SOLVOMET strategy, which includes the close follow-up of the SOLVOMET budget, as well as decisions with respect to new projects, human resources and large investments. 

The Research Team (RT) gathers all junior and senior researchers actively working in SOLVOMET, i.e. with Prof. Koen Binnemans as (co-)supervisor, including post-docs, PhD students, research associates, MSc students and visiting students. All members of SOLVOMET support the SOLVOMET Centre. SOLVOMET interacts with the EU Project MGT team, which coordinates multiple EU projects and includes SOLVOMET-affiliated project managers and communication/dissemination coordinators. The SOLVOMET MB corresponds to the Steering Committee of SOLVOMET Centre. SOLVOMET is part of the Department of Chemistry and closely interacts with SIM² KU Leuven.