The major Sustainable processes offered at TU Freiberg focuses on the different stages of the mineral processing pathway: from the exploration of new deposits; the development of alternative energy technologies and materials; to the recycling and management of resources. TU Freiberg is the only European university that operates their own underground research and teaching mine, and as the oldest mining university in the world. TU Freiberg is involved in interdisciplinary research projects such as in-situ bioleaching and refining of strategically important metals such as indium and germanium (especially relevant as both elements were discovered at TU Freiberg). Whenever possible, research projects commercialise their results through start-up companies such as PARFORCE, which produces phosphoric acid from waste materials.
Master dissertation projects can come from a wide variety of fields but should focus on the science and/or engineering aspects of materials processing. At the department of Mineral Processing Machines comminution and the sorting of raw materials can be studied. Due to the large number of industrial partners, experimental investigations using full size industrial machines is possible for students. In the Chemical Technology, Inorganic Chemistry and Biology departments, hydro- and biohydrometallurgical mineral leaching and recycling methods are being developed to extract strategically important metals from primary sources or secondary raw materials such as tailings and old batteries. This research has resulted in two start-up companies in recent years. The treatment of aqueous process streams can be studied in the department of Process Engineering. Amongst other topics, research focuses on selective separation of strategically important elements from polymetallic streams using membrane techniques. The Non-ferrous Metallurgy department focusses on the development of electro-winning and refining procedures as well as pyrometallurgical methods on both the lab and pilot plant scale.
Through industrial partnerships, there are opportunities to complete a master dissertation at partner institution such as one of the nation-wide Helmholtz Centres, or companies such as Aurubis, Europe’s largest copper producer. TU Freiberg also has strong links to the production industry, allowing students to produce end-stage products such as sensors and semiconductor technologies relevant to the mining and recycling sector.