Start-up gets rare earths from electronic waste


Villigen AG – Chemist Dr. Ajay Patil has developed a new technology to recover rare earths from electronic waste. This award-winning process for recycling management is being developed to business maturity by its new start-up in Villiger Park Innovaare.

The project CECO-MET (Circular Economy in practice by recycling critical Metals) has been awarded at the Tech4Impact initiative by Switzerland Innovation. Under the leadership of chemist Dr. Ajay Patil, it has developed a novel process at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) that can be used to recover high-purity rare earths from smartphones and computers, for example.

According to a press release by Switzerland Innovation, Patil’s start-up company REMRETEch (Rare Earth Metals Recycling Technologies) will be based in the Villiger Park Innovaare after its spin-off from PSI. There he wants to use the Tech4Impact prize money of CHF 85,000 to further develop his recycling technology and build up a business from it. The aim is to develop a complete pilot system for the recovery of rare earth metals such as neodymium and dysprosium. Both are considered highly relevant raw material elements for the green energy and e-mobility industry.

CECO-MET was developed at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen. Furthermore, this project is based on research results that Patil had developed at the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. According to the Communication, his method could offer “higher process throughput and better economic and environmental prospects compared to the current state of the art”. Thus, this method would “contribute to the objectives of the circular economy”.

“We are recycling the key factors of our technological and futuristic economy”, Patil is quoted in the communication. “We are very grateful to Switzerland Innovation for supporting our activities to promote recycling management and sustainability in practice” mm