Summer school 2017: Digitizing the Circular Economy

From July 17 till 20, 2017, a group of 22 master and PhD-student gathered in Leuven for a summer school on ‘Digitizing the Circular Economy’. The summer school, supported by EIT Raw Materials, allowed a deeper insight in the evaluation of resource efficiency. Flowsheets of physical separation, metallurgical and recycling systems were reviewed, using exergy, LCA tools and specific software. As such, students were able to link simulation and footprinting. Students learned to use the HSC Sim software to work out their own models and apply it on their specific research.

Read the report & see some pictures here:

During the summer school, students learned to use the HSC Sim software to work out their own models and apply it on their specific research. 


PERIOD: 17-20/07/2017
LOCATION: MTC 00.12, Leuven, Belgium
COURSE LEADER: Prof. Markus Reuter (TUBAF)


Metallurgy is a key enabler of a circular economy (CE), its digitization is the metallurgical Internet of Things (m-IoT). In short: Metallurgy is at the heart of a CE, as metals all have strong intrinsic recycling potentials. Process metallurgy, as a key enabler for a CE, will help much to deliver its goals. The first-principles models of process engineering help quantify the resource efficiency (RE) of the CE system, connecting all stakeholders via digitization. This provides well-argued and first-principles environmental information to empower a tax paying consumer society, policy, legislators, and environmentalists. It provides the details of capital expenditure and operational expenditure estimates. Through this path, the opportunities and limits of a CE, recycling, and its technology can be estimated. The true boundaries of sustainability can be determined in addition to the techno-economic evaluation of RE. The integration of metallurgical reactor technology and systems digitally, not only on one site but linking different sites globally via hardware, is the basis for describing CE systems as dynamic feedback control loops, i.e., the m-IoT. It is the linkage of the global carrier metallurgical processing system infrastructure that maximizes the recovery of all minor and technology elements in its associated refining metallurgical infrastructure. This course will illustrate some of these concepts with hands-on training.


Day 1: Overview of concepts and introduction to cases to solved with the simulation tools

Day 2 (to 3): Working out a case from EoL product to metal recovery, typical examples shown in Figure 1 below e.g. comparing hydro- and pyrometallurgical processing with exergy, energy and material recovery as well as environmental footprint

Day 3 (to 4): Analysis of results and recommendation


Target group / pre-requisites

Students that want to make a change by fundamentally understanding the CE system. Systemic thinkers that want to understand Circular Economy Engineering in the context of process metallurgy, recycling and design for recycling will find this valuable. Therefore, metallurgical knowledge, process engineering as well as simulation interest would be valuable. Exposure to the economics of engineering systems will also help to develop the case studies in this course.

Course Aim

The course will by practical simulation cases flowsheet circular economy systems and then use environmental analysis to footprint solutions as shown by the figure below. Details of the course are discussed in

The course participants will after this course have been exposed among others to:

  • Flowsheeting of physical separation, metallurgical and recycling systems by hands-on use of simulation software (HSC Sim) – various systems will be explored
  • Evaluation of the resource efficiency of these flowsheets e.g. using exergy, LCA tools etc. thus linking simulation and footprinting as shown in the above figure.
  • The students acquire knowledge about the use of English terms in non-ferrous process metallurgy as well as physical recycling in addition to design for recycling.
  • Linking bill of materials of products to metallurgical recovery

The course will cover some of the following:

  • Worrell, M.A. Reuter (2014): Handbook of Recycling, Elsevier BV, Amsterdam, 595p. (ISBN 978-0-12-396459-5).
  • Hack, M.A. Reuter, S. Petersen, S. Arnout (2016): Recycling processes, Section 2.11, 247-268 In: Handbook of Software Solutions for ICME, Eds. Georg J. Schmitz, Ulrich Prahl), Springer, 632p. (ISBN: 978-3-527-33902-0)
  • M.A. Reuter, A. van Schaik (2016): Gold – a key enabler of a Circular Economy: In: Recycling of WEEE, Gold Ore Processing, Project Development and Operations 2nd Edition, Elsevier, Ed. M Adams, 937-956 ( )
  • M.A. Reuter (2016): Digitalizing the Circular Economy – Circular Economy Engineering defined by the metallurgical Internet of Things-, 2016 TMS EPD Distinguished Lecture, USA, Metallurgical Transactions B, 47(6), 3194-3220 (
  • Rönnlund, M.A. Reuter, S. Horn, J. Aho, M. Päällysaho, L. Ylimäki, T. Pursula (2016): Sustainability indicator framework implemented in the metallurgical industry: International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, Part 1-A comprehensive view and benchmark, 21(10), 1473-1500: Part 2 Part 2-A case study from the copper industry, , 21(12), 1719-1748.
  • M.A. Reuter, A. van Schaik, J. Gediga (2015): Simulation-based design for resource efficiency of metal production and recycling systems, Cases: Copper production and recycling, eWaste (LED Lamps), Nickel pig iron, International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 20(5), 671-693.

Scholarships for up to 20 selected students

We offer scholarships to a maximum of 20 selected students. The selection will take place based on motivation letter, track record and previous experiences.

The scholarship includes the following:

  • Tuition fee
  • Catering during the summer school (coffee break in the morning and afternoon, + sandwich lunch),
  • One summer school dinner: on Tuesday July 18, a summer school dinner is offered in restaurant Domus in the city center of Leuven.
  • Summer school course materials,
  • Upon request: a private room in a university residence (check in 16/07, check out 21/07; towels and sheets are available),
  • Upon request: reimbursement of travel expenses up to maximum 300 euro ONLY upon presentation of original invoices.

As such, selected students only need to cover breakfast and evening meals, personal expenses and any travel expenses higher than 300 euro.

Students from the European Economic Area are expected to travel with their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC); students from outside the EEA will be registered at the university (costs are covered).


Applications for the 2017 summer school are closed. Keep an eye on our website for future opportunities!


The Summer School starts on Monday 17/07 at 9h00 in room Maria Theresia College (MTC) 00.12 in Sint-Michielsstraat 6, in Leuven.
From Monday to Thursday courses take place from 9h-12h30 and from 13h30 till 17h00 with a short break in the mornings and afternoon.
Please note that Friday 21 July is an official holiday in Belgium (National Independence Day).

Selected students can request a private room in the university guesthouse ‘De Vesten’. Read more information about the logistics.
Leuven is only 15′ away by train from Brussels Airport.
More information about Leuven:

Should you have any further question, please contact the project manager Piet Wostyn.

This activity has received funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, under the Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation