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SCARCE: 18 months of collaboration between a university in Singapore and CEA

​Inaugurated in March 2019, the joint laboratory between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore and CEA displays its first series of publications co-signed by researchers from NTU, CEA-Iramis, ICSM and DES in Marcoule.

Published on 28 September 2020

The SCARCE alliance (see below), dedicated to R&D on the circular economy and a current focus on the recycling of electronic products, batteries and solar cells, is being deployed at the CEA-NTU joint laboratory in Singapore. Some studies are also continuing at Marcoule, at the Institute of Separative Chemistry (ICSM) and at the Institute of Science and Technology for a Circular Economy of Low Carbon Energy (ISEC) of the "Direction des énergies", and at Saclay - notably at CEA-Iramis, with the launch this autumn of two PhD theses : one on the recycling of printed circuits, and the other on supercritical liquid-liquid extraction of metals.

A first 2020 publication concerns a process for the removal of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from polymers (foams, plastics, etc.) - as BFRs are known as endocrine disruptors - by extraction in supercritical CO2. In particular, the team have studied the solubility of five BFRs (3 conventional and 2 new ones) in this solvent and the extraction kinetics from binary and ternary systems (in the presence of a polymer matrix), for three usual polymers. They show that well-chosen operating conditions make it possible to consider a sustainable industrial process.

A 2nd publication aims to substitute hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), highly oxidizing and toxic for many living organisms, with powdered orange peel waste to extract recyclable metals from used lithium batteries. This powder, rich in cellulose and antioxidants, has the desired reducing potential. After optimizing the extraction parameters, the chemists obtained lixiviation efficiencies ranging from 80 to 99% for nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium. It is further shown that the cytotoxicity of the by-products is negligible and that reuse of recovered metals is possible to make competitive LiCoO2 (OLC) based button cells.

A third publication describes a method for the combined recycling of both plastic bottles and lithium batteries in a single process. Once depolymerized, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) provides a source of organic ligands while batteries provide metals. The result is an extremely porous material, analogous to "MIL-53" (metal-organic framework), with high application potential: O2 capture, catalysis, targeted drugs…

SCARCE and the CEA-NTU joint laboratory 

The SCARCE alliance (Singapore CEA Alliance for Research in Circular Economy) between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore and CEA is focused on research in support of the emerging circular economy. It was launched on 23 November 2018 in Paris with the creation of the joint CEA-NTU laboratory, located on the NTU campus within the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N). 

See also (in French) « Un laboratoire franco-singapourien pour l'économie circulaire ». 

Read the article on the website of "The conversation".

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