Here we are, the ESRs! – Work Package 1

Welcome to the blog of the ETN SOCRATES! We hope to post interesting articles on a regular basis, so add this page to your favorite bookmarks! First of all, we will be introducing ourselves; this week, we start with the ESRs of work package 1. Happy reading!

Hi all! We are ESRs 1 to 4 and we are the Work Package 1! Our duty is to care for the first steps of the recovery process (that are the most important ones, but do not tell that to the other ESRs!). Through leaching, hydrometallurgical processes and even plasma we will process industrial wastewaters to separate and concentrate valuable metals. Here, we leached some information about us and our research, Enjoy it!

01 Thupten Palden web
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:


Ioanna Maria Pateli

My name is Ioanna Maria Pateli and I am the ESR 2. You can call me Ioanna Maria, or Marianna, or just Ioanna. Confused? Yes, it is confusing. But, what is not confusing to me is that I purely love chemistry, but we will come to that later on.

This September, I graduated from the National and Technical University of Athens and now I am holding a Diploma of Mining and Metallurgical engineer. My specialization is on Metallurgy, which is a very interesting, adventurous and yet dangerous path to walk on. Metallurgy is a whole world of techniques, methodologies, thoughts and, if you recall, it started to develop in 2000 bc, it is undoubtedly clear that without this science, world would be very different.  I learned a lot of things, part of which is that chemistry is all around us and has a great impact on everything.

When people were asking me what I want to do after my studies, I was always answering that I wanted to improve the world. How is this possible? Be a researcher is the answer.

I always wanted to be a researcher and you could find evidence in my bedroom’s drawer, which was always full of bottles of homemade chemical stuff. So, when the opportunity knocked on my door, I applied for a PhD position at the University of Leicester. My research topic is “Ionometallurgical leaching using Deep Eutectic Solvents”. Deep eutectic solvents are new, innovative and promising solvents which will change the scenery of Metallurgy in the years to come. My main aim is to dissolve low metal containing industrial residues in ethaline or reline (Deep eutectic solvents) and study the electrochemical behaviour of the metals in these systems. Then, I will try to recover the metals from the solution. Recycling was always a priority of my daily life, so I am really excited to be focused on this topic in my research project. Finally, I am really proud to work with Professor Andrew Abbott, which as I think is one of the most talented professors in his field.

When I first came to UK, I was really afraid top find a cold atmosphere (because of the weather would affect people also) but I was totally wrong. People here welcomed me in the most heart-warming way and I am so grateful for that. The university is very well organised, with many research achievements but the most important thing is that… is located nearby a big green park. Why is this important? Because when you are tired, sleepy after 9 or 10 hours in the lab, you need fresh air and open space to clear your thoughts. So, the thing that I most enjoy here is walking in the park, thinking about my next moves or what to cook for dinner (a wide variety of thoughts in my head).

The most essential thing, in conclusion, is that you have to follow your dreams, wherever they will lead you. Don’t be afraid of the changes in your life, you will always find yourself surprised of how skillful you are. If you are interested in my research project and want to get more information, don’t hesitate to contact me at:


Samant Nagraj

Samant Nagraj

My name is Samant Nagraj and I am the ESR 3 from India. I am an introvert and a night owl. I can spend days watching YouTube, movies, sitcoms and Japanese anime. I am not a great cook, but I like to cook when I get bored.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from JNTU Hyderabad, India. Working on my bachelor thesis at a steel plant made me realized how amazing Metallurgy truly is. So, I decided to do master’s in Metallurgical Engineering and the research at RWTH Aachen University, Germany caught my interest. At RWTH Aachen, I focused my study on Process Technology of Metals and wrote my thesis on electronic scrap recycling. I am currently enrolled at KU Leuven, where I am undertaking a PhD with the focus on the valorization of fayalitic slag.

My PhD is about designing highly selective pyrometallurgical process for the extraction of metals from industrial-waste residues such as metallurgical slag. This process produces an ultra-clean slag which can be further valorized as a building material. My host company Metallo is utilizing plasma gas to selectively separate Zinc from the fayalitic slag. My job is to study the effects of plasma gas submerged in the liquid fayalitic slag on the Zinc extraction process. I have to develop a model to calculate the reaction rates and equilibria for the zinc-fuming reaction and validate it.

I want to develop novel recycling techniques and processes with cutting edge technologies which produce zero waste. For that reason, I have to become an experienced researcher in process metallurgy and metal recycling. In the distant future, I want to start a metal recycling company using the experience I gained. I believe KU Leuven and Metallo are the right places for me to learn and develop my skills as a researcher. Prof. Blanpain and Ir. Chintinne are sharing their experiences and guiding me in the right direction to achieve my goal.

If you are interested in my research topic, do not be hesitate and get in touch with me, I will be glad of talking and discussing about it. You can contact me at:


Pelin Altinkaya

Hi all! My name is Pelin Altinkaya and I am the ESR 4! I graduated at the Karadeniz Technical University in Mining Engineering in Trabzon, Turkey. I know that many people think that Mining Engineers are not environmentalist; but, on the contrary, I think we are among the scientists who care the most about the environment.

Holding on this thought, I wanted to do my master studies on Hydrometallurgy about alternative processes to cyanide leaching. During my master, I worked as researcher in a project called “Silver recovery by thiosulphate and ultra-fine grinding from refractory ores and plant tailings”. During this work, I was looking for thiosulfates as alternative to cyanide in leaching processes. Cyanide is a highly toxic and environmentally endangering reagent, which was the reason to look for an alternative to it. Therefore, if I wanted a cleaner world to further generations I had to work on it. After hard working for years with my supervisor and my group, we had very successful results, which showed us many alternative processes to make the world a more liveable place with zero waste.

Currently, I am working as a Researcher at Outotec Research Center in Finland and at the same time pursuing my PhD studies at Aalto University, Finland. I was very lucky to get this position. My dreams, of working in the great company about hydrometallurgy and to deliver more effective and green recycling processes, became true! Thanks to EU MSCA-ETN SOCRATES project, I have the chance work onto a very important topic, “Hydrometallurgical process for recovery the critical and valuable metal recovery from complex impure process solutions”. Outotec is a great research center to find the best solution about this topic. At the same time, when I pursue my doctoral studies at Aalto University, I will learn more about the process and do some experimental work. Besides, I will do some of my research in VTT Research Center for about 4 months. I am confident that my PhD will be a great experience with combination of these three places and I am so excited to see what future holds for me!

Stay with SCIENCE! Pelin Altinkaya.

If you are interested on my topic and you wish to learn more about it, please don’t hesitate to take contact with me at:


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