Thupten Palden

My name is Thupten Palden and I am the ESR 1!  I am a Tibetan and I grew up in a small hill station town called Dharamsala, situated at the outskirt of Himalayan mountain range in Northern India. I did my bachelors in Chemistry in Bremen, Germany and my Master studies in nanomaterial science in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I worked for two years in a Dutch chemical company called DSM near Maastricht, in the Netherlands.  My experience in the Netherlands has been unforgettable.  I enjoyed the daily bicycle rides around the canals in immensely beautiful Dutch cities, which are mostly built during the middle ages.  The Dutch people are very open and they speak English fluently, which is why I still don’t speak Dutch. For those who do not know, I must say that the Netherlands has much more to offer than the stereotypical idea of marijuana and red light district.

My experience in DSM showed me the profit-orientated, fast-changing and competitive reality of the science world. It motivated me to pursue my PhD studies. My desire to learn, to grow and to do meaningful research drove me from industry back to academia. SOCRATES is exactly the kind of project I craved for and I feel very lucky to be part of it. Through this project, I hope to learn, grow and, at the same time, contribute to society by developing chemical methods to convert vast industrial waste into a valuable resource.

In the next 3 years, I will be working at KU Leuven, Belgium on biocompatible Solvometallurgical leaching methods for low-grade industrial process residues.  Metallurgical companies extracts target metals from high-grade ores, and then dump the remaining diluted biproducts as waste in landfill sites.  However, these wastes still contain some amount of valuable metals.  I will be working on recovering those valuable metals from the wastewaters into a concentrated solution, by using non-aqueous solvents.  The conventional hydrometallurgical method uses an aqueous acid solution for leaching. In my project, the aqueous solvent is replaced by non-aqueous solvent to achieve higher selectivity with reduced water and acid consumption. I will use only use biodegradable solvents, such as bioethanol and biodiesel. The extractive metallurgical method based on the use of non-aqueous solvents instead of an aqueous phase is called solvometallurgy.

By now I lived in Leuven for almost 3 months and, I must say, it has exceeded all my expectations. I am looking forward to live my next years here in Leuven and I hope to get some good results too.

Please do not hesitate contact me if you have any questions about my project. Here is my email address: thupten.palden@kuleuven.be