WP2-ESRs, set for the stars! – Work Package 2

Hello again fellow readers! We are ESRs 5 to 10 and we are the Work Package 2! Starting from the valuable samples given us from the ESRs of the Work Package 1 we will work out how to separate selectively the metals present in those concentrated matrices. We will investigate how ultrasounds, microwave and electricity can help us in extracting and separating the metals contained in those matrices. Additionally, we will also investigate how the extraction processes works out on a theoretical level and synthesise new extraction media designed for metal extraction. Isn’t it exciting! 🙂

Hello unsuspected reader,

Stylianos Spathariotis

Stylianos Spathariotis

My name is Stylianos Spathariotis and I am a Greek metal lover. No I don’t mean the music! I started being occupied with sciences when I was in High school. Like everyone, I didn’t like them at first (I still don’t sometimes) but as the years went by I realised my love – hate relation with chemistry.

Having grown up since then, I entered the university. Luckily or not, the school of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering in Athens was my choice to study to. Very disappointed at first, i was obliged to attend all the mining courses while begging for some chemistry. There wasn’t much I could do but to remain patient till my masters. There was when I first met Ionic Liquids, these famous innovative solvents. Things got serious after that. I was a novice researcher working towards to an alternative method of aluminium production, using these low temperature molten salts.

Seven months of hard laboratory work had passed by and I was almost at the end of my masters, not even knowing what was next. I didn’t stop being optimistic and one day I noticed that applications for PhD came up from the EU. I rushed to apply, and guess what?! Luckily, I managed to get a Marie – Curie scholarship at the chemistry department in the University of Leicester. Finally, I was in my natural habitat again – a messy laboratory with chemicals all around me! Being more mature and experienced from my masters I am now working towards the electrowinning of metals from deep eutectic solvents, another innovative kind of solvents.

Having spent three months here I can assure you that sometimes it’s not that romantic. I hate it when things don’t go as expected. But that’s what motivates me, overcoming difficulties and trying to make the chemistry work. Because if it does, then I am happy!

If you liked my story and want to encourage me use this: st.spatha@gmail.com

If you didn’t like it but you like me use this: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stylianos-spathariotis-a6a499bb/

Hi there!


Ivan Korolev

My name is Ivan, I am the ESR 6 and I am Russian mining engineer. As many of you may know, my homeland is pretty rich in natural resources, such as oil, diamonds, metal ores. I am myself coming from a small mining town in Siberia, so my choice of profession was of little surprise.

During the studies in Kuzbass State Technical University, I was focusing mostly on coal mining and processing, as this was the most abundant mineral resource in my region. However, already in the course of my undergraduate studies I have realized that coal use in the world is decreasing from year to year due to raising environmental concerns and strong orientation of the society towards sustainable energy sources.

That is why, soon after receiving my BEng, I decided to make a shift in my area of expertise and fortunately I got the opportunity to continue my education with an Erasmus Mundus Master Course in Georesources Engineering – EMerald. The driving force behind this master program is the concept of geometallurgy, which combines ore geology, mining, metallurgy and recycling. These two years were demanding as much as they were rewarding after all. The challenges I faced, like moving from one country to another every six months, or need to work in a diverse multicultural groups, helped to my personal growth. As for my professional viewpoints, I became confident that people should more carefully treat available natural resources and look for improved technologies of metal recovery and recycling instead of digging more holes in the Earth’s face and turning it into moonscape.

The European countries have inherited a massive legacy from centuries of the mining and metallurgical activities carried on their territories represented as a large quantity of industrial waste. Back then, even the best available technologies did not let to fully extract valuable components, leaving some amount of them in process residues. Under the threat of resource scarcity, these rejects shall be turned into a source of critical metals, if the efficient recovery method is discovered.

My current research is devoted to the development of such process for selective electrowinning of valuable metals from complex solutions. I am delighted to have on my side the leading technology provider for metal industry, Outotec Oy, and enthusiastic result-driven research group of Hydrometallurgy and Corrosion from the Aalto University. This work is indeed just a small piece in bigger canvas of the SOCRATES project, but I strongly believe that together with my 15 colleagues in this project we can offer fresh insights to sustainable use of Earth’s resources.

Should you have further interest in my current research project or just want to have a discussion about current state of mining and metallurgical industry worldwide, feel free to drop a couple of lines to : korolev.ivan@inbox.ru


The ESR7 will be working on Ultrasound- and microwave-assisted non-aqueous solvent extraction in milliflow reactors and will be based in KU Leuven. It took us a while longer to fill in the position, but we hope to do so as soon as possible!

Giacomo Damilano

Giacomo Damilano

My name is Giacomo Damilano, I am a green chemist from Italy and I am the ESR 8. As I was a child, you could have asked me what I would like to be when I would grow up and I would have replied the mad scientist! Being that I pursed a field of chemistry that “aims to the moon” (a green future), I think I attained to my childhood fantasies.

Science always captivated me and chemistry, being an inventive and creative person, seemed to be the most appropriate science field to study! To be sincere, I was not always a green chemist; I started laying down the common groundings of pure chemistry in my Bachelor degree studies at the University of Bologna. Then, I moved to London to pursue my Master studies in green chemistry at Imperial College of London, one of the greenest periods of my life!

Even today, I have fond memories of that experience outside my own country; a tough experience that I would strongly suggest to anyone. In London, I started researching on Ionic Liquids, a marvellous and exciting field of research full of twists and novelty. These experiences were even more relevant to me as a person because allowed me to understand the importance to proudly own your identity, something I learnt from the Dean of Natural Sciences Tom Welton whom advocated for diversity among scientists and visibility for the LGBT community in science, community to whom I personally belong.

Lately, I started my PhD studies here at KU Leuven into the synthesis of novel Ionic Liquids starting from renewable materials. Ionic liquids are marvellous materials to carry on research! They are salts liquid at about room temperature with unique proprieties as, for example, nearly non-existent vapour pressure, which avoids both financial and environmental issues related with solvents evaporation.

Leuven is a fantastic working environment for carrying out my research, just in the centre of Europe and in a dynamic group of bright and passionate researchers from all over the world. Professor Dehaen and Professor Binnemans are directing me in my personal researcher growth and research and I am grateful to them and to my colleagues for sharing with me their experience in this field.

May you be interested to my argument of research, you are more than welcome to get in touch with me at: giacomo.damilano@gmail.com

Roberto Macchieraldo

Roberto Macchieraldo, not the superhero, but the guy in the back!

As everyone before and after me I am presenting myself. My name is Roberto Macchieraldo and I am ESR 9. I am Italian and I was born in Biella, a small town close to Turin, in the north of Italy. Although right now I am a researcher (or I pretend to be at least), in my life I had several experiences, in Italy and abroad as well.

But let´s make a step back. I took my chemical degree in Turin and I had lived there during that period. Turin is an amazing city, big enough to offer anything you need, but still small enough not to make you feel small and alone. Moreover, people there are friendly and let you be yourself and as I am Italian I must say that the food is great. If you love chocolate especially. During that period, I also had the opportunity for an internship in Paris, and well, it is Paris, do I need say anything more?

Once finished my studies I moved back to Biella, looking for a job, and there I worked in a small but solid company which produce non-woven fabric (you know diapers and tampons? Well, non-woven fabric is what they are made of). After a year, I felt I needed something different, so I moved to Siena (one of the most amazing place in Italy, in my opinion) where I attended a master in Drug Design and Synthesis. Thanks to that master I had the opportunity to work for GSK, a pharmaceutical company, in the field of the Quality Assurance.

I must admit that the period spent in Siena has been one of the happiest in my life.

I would like to describe Siena, but I would go long so I recommend any curious reader to google it and book for holidays as soon as possible! (No I am not paid by the city of Siena, but if the mayor of Siena feels like, I will accept any present for what I just said).

During that period, I had an interview in Belgium for an open position as early stage researcher (ESR) in a European project called Horizon 2020-Socrates. And here I am now, working in Germany as a researcher, seeking my PhD, which is onto the miscibility of solvent systems that are relevant for metal extraction by theoretical methods. I don’t have a lot to say about that right now, as I had just a short time since the beginning, but what I saw so far makes me happy about the decision taken and for all the interested readers further news and information will come in my next posts. I wanted also to thank the whole Kirchner Group for all the help received and for the great experience I am having.

Now it is time to go back to work 🙂

Hi blank_pic-150x150everybody,

Here, ESR10 should be presenting him/herself. Unfortunately, we have not yet found a colleague to complete the PhD-research on In-silico design of selective metal extractants. ESR10 will also be working in Bonn, together with Roberto. So don’t hesitate to apply asap for the position! see http://etn-socrates.eu/jobs/ 



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