Project VaReeWa (2020)

Development of a combined pyro-/hydrometallurgical process for value recovery from electronic scrap through small-scale implementation in Africa

Project management

© Prof. Dr. Jochen Petersen

Prof. Dr. Jochen Petersen,
University of Cape Town, Cape Town,
South Africa
in cooperation with

© Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.h.c. Bernd Friedrich

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.h.c. Bernd Friedrich,
Aachen University of Technology

Project description

With an annual production of more than 50 million tons and a high content of valuable metals, electronic waste represents a significant secondary resource. However, current recycling technologies are dominated by large-scale, pyrometallurgical processes, so that smaller companies struggle to get access to the market. A new recycling approach envisages hydrometallurgical treatment of electronic waste, which enables selective and environmentally friendly recovery of valuable metals on a small business scale.

In the framework of the German-South African project VaReeWA, previous research results and processes in the thermal and hydrometallurgical treatment of electronic waste were further developed and partly implemented at a local recycling company in South Africa. This included multi-stage leaching and recovery of precious and base metals as well as recirculation of the process solution used. Results of the project were made available to local recycling companies, including a three-day workshop to enable technical implementation. Finally, the socio-economic and ecological sustainability of the project was critically evaluated in a local African context.


Prof. Dr. Jochen Petersen
University of Cape Town, Cape Town
South Africa

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.h.c. Bernd Friedrich
RWTH Aachen University of Technology