Platinum group metal recovery from spent catalysts - Case Study


Courtesy of Tetronics (International) Limited

The Challenge

Catalyst wastes, including automotive catalytic converters and industrial catalysts, contain Precious Metals and specifically Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), which are valuable as a result of their low natural abundance, unique properties as well as the complex and costly processes that are required for their extraction and refining from primary sources. Furuya Metal Co. Ltd., Japan selected Tetronics International to supply a new plasma system for the reclamation of Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) from spent catalysts.

The Solution

The principal advantages of Tetronics patented plasma technology are that it couples the highest technical recovery/operational flexibility with the lowest environmental impacts and cost base. The process chemistry in Tetronics' plasma waste recovery technology is designed to smelt and preferentially separate the precious metals from the less valuable material, which is vitrified into an inert, safe reusable product called Plasmarok, in a single processing step. The technology will also destroy any hazardous organic material, such as dioxins etc. that may be contained within the waste material.

Tetronics' technology has been used for decades to recover Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium from precious metal bearing waste materials. With on-going development, Furuya, Mitsubishi Corp and Tetronics International have now jointly developed know-how to recover Ruthenium and Iridium from low grade scrap.

Furuya has introduced the plasma pyrometallurgical facility in a newly constructed building at its Japanese Tsuchiura plant. Their newly established plasma process will enable Furuya to recover PGMs from low grade scrap catalysts with highly efficient technical recovery rates.

Key Facts

  • Tetronics announced in July 2012 that they had been selected by Furuya Metals, Japan, to supply a new plasma system for the reclamation of PGMs from spent catalysts
  • Following due-dilligence, including test work at Tetronics comprehensive trials facility, the plant will allow technical recover rates in excesss of 98% of PGMs from spent catalysts
  • In September 2013, Furuya Metals officially opened its new plasma facility for the reclamation of high levels of PGMs from spent industrial and chemical catalysts

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