The next generation of recycling


Press Release 23.4.2014

About 70 Billion tons of raw materials are produced annually worldwide. That's twice as much as the late 1970s. Still rising - and with finite resources. One way, to continue to have enough materials for new goods available, ist konsequentes Recycling. In tomorrow project "Molecular Sorting" Fraunhofer researchers are working on the circular economy of the next generation. Their results are on the IFAT in Munich (5. to 9. More) in Halle A5, Stand 219/318 before.

Fraunhofer experts are working on a method, to quality of old flat glass, to win dye-free glass.
© Fraunhofer

About 200 Kilograms of raw materials per capita per day consume the Germans, according to the Federal Environment Agency. We are at the forefront worldwide. This not only harms the environment - it is also dangerous for our international competitiveness. As a resource-poor country, Germany has to put on a particularly gentle handling of resources. New and efficient recycling methods are a way, become more independent from the import expensive raw materials. Important foundations for the systematic recycling and producing in circuits have laid Fraunhofer experts in the Tomorrow Project "Molecular Sorting for Resource Efficiency". On the IFAT they make the new methods before, which the recycling of precious metals, Rare earths, Glass, Wood, Allow concrete and phosphorus.

Recycling 2.0 - Perfectly separated

"The separation processes are doing for the first time on the smallest level required, that is, we go down to the molecular or even atomic level down ", explains the project coordinator, Professor Jörg Woidasky vom Fraunhofer-Institute für Chemische Technologie ICT in Pfinztal bei Karlsruhe. An example is the microbial ore leaching, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial- Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart is being developed for practical application. Thus, even small amounts of precious metals or rare earths can be recovered. Researchers use microorganisms, to insoluble metal compounds in ores, in incineration slag or waste wood, which were impregnated with metal salts, convert them into water-soluble salts. The dissolved metals can then bind with special polymers and thus selectively removed from the solution. In a third stage, the metals are separated.

Experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg working on a method, to quality of old flat glass, to win dye-free glass. Ultra-white glass allows maximum light permeability and is therefore approximately in the photovoltaic, in fiber optic cables, used or displays. Are foreign atoms - such as iron - in the glass, decreases its permeability. "The growth momentum just in photovoltaics is so great, that neither the natural iron-free raw material sources, nor the amount of recycling as of "disused" PV modules sufficient, to cover the need for highly transparent flat glass in the coming decades ", says Dr. Jürgen Meinhardt from the ISC. An alternative source of raw materials could be conventional flat glass. However, the iron content of the glass is too high. The researchers are developing a method, with the iron atoms directly from the liquid around 1500 Degrees Celsius hot melt can be extracted.

Use waste wood intelligently further

In Germany the wood recycling is still in its infancy: So far, only about 33 Reused percent of the eight million tons of wood waste. One reason for the low recovery rate is the Altholzverordnung. It prescribes, that treated with halogenated organic compounds or coated material with preserved wood must not be used or only very limited re-. New separation techniques at the molecular level to remedy this, without endangering the pension idea of ​​Altholzverordnung.

In order to recycle waste wood more, one must recognize existing pollutants. These translated researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research - Wilhelm-Institute Klauditz, WWI in Braunschweig on different methods such as near infrared spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence analysis or ion mobility spectrometry. If the pollutant identified, You can also remove it. "With organic wood preservatives, treated wood can be cleaned with supercritical fluids. In order to separate or enrich heavy metals, we want both wet chemical and combustion processes and pyrolysis apply «, says the physicist Peter Meinlschmidt from WWI.

Recycled concrete

Every year millions of tons of rubble to fall. Ein Verfahren zur Wiederverwertung von Beton existiert aber noch nicht. The want to change researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP in wooden churches. Put you on the "electrodynamic fragmentation", there chasing you ultrashort flashes through the concrete. With it, it is possible, the concrete into its individual components - gravel and cement stone - to disassemble. A first essential step towards recycling of old concrete.

Recover germanium and phosphorus

But not only from solid waste can be valuable materials to win. The exhaust gases from waste incineration plants also contain raw materials. To enrich this, develop the researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden special ceramic filter, where certain components in the exhaust gas at temperatures of more than 850 ° C initially selectively deposited and recovered subsequently – such as germanium, Zinc and phosphorus.

But are these methods actually developed for a rapidly changing market environment? This is what the Molecular sorting partners evaluated in a study. Their conclusion is positive. Recycling at the atomic level can be in the future with high probability reasonably practicable. Not only, when it is politically supported, but also as economically independent business model.

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