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€40 million for new EU research on resource efficiency Pubblicato il: 14/11/2013

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The European Commission has approved funding for 14 new research projects to shape a more resource-efficient economy in Europe.

The projects, which involve the collaboration of over 140 partners from research organisations and private companies, will tackle the challenges of recycling waste materials from manufactured products and the agricultural sector to improve the quality of the environment and save money. Each project addresses a key issue such reusing discarded automobile tyres, recovering key elements from batteries, producing green fertiliser from animal waste, and generating renewable clean energy from food and plant waste.

The €40 million funds are included in the 2013 Environment call of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and will involve partners from 19 European countries.

The kick-off for these projects took place 5-6 November in Brussels, where the project coordinators met the European Commission to set the priorities and coordinate the work ahead.

Resource-efficiency research projects

A summary of the 14 resource-efficiency research projects that will receive a total €40 million funding is presented here.

ANAGENNISI (Innovative Reuse of All Tyre Components in Concrete, EU budget contribution: € 3.12 mln, Project coordinator: The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom): At the moment nearly 50% of all recycled tyres/components still end up as fuel, in low grade applications or in landfill. All tyre constituents (rubber, high strength steel cord and wire, high strength textile reinforcement) are high quality materials and deserve to be reused for their relevant properties. The aim of this project is to develop innovative solutions to reuse all tyre components in high value innovative concrete applications with reduced environmental impact. For instance, construction is the highest user of materials with concrete being the most popular structural material. Concrete is inherently brittle in compression (unless suitably confined) and weak in tension and, hence, it is normally reinforced with steel bars or fibres.

APSE (Use of eco-friendly materials for a new concept of Asphalt Pavements for a Sustainable Environment, EU budget contribution: € 2.45 mln, Project coordinator: Acciona Infraestructuras S.A., Alcobendas, Spain): Road transport is the most important mode of surface transport in Europe- the EU disposes of 5.000.000 km of paved roads- and it is fundamental to its social and economic development. The asphalt industry is one of the largest consumers of energy and raw materials, and highest contributor to the emission of greenhouses gases. Developing novel technologies to integrate waste and recycled materials into the production cycle of asphalt mixtures is a solution that improves both sustainability and cost-efficiency of the asphalt pavement industry reducing the CO2 footprint of these pavements and the environmental impact and associated costs related to the waste generation and disposal.

COLABATS (Cobalt and lanthanide recovery from batteries, EU budget contribution: €3.59 mln, Project coordinator: C-Tech Innovation Limited, Chester, United Kingdom): The COLABATS project will provide new industrial processes for the recycling of the critical metals Cobalt and Lanthanides and key economic metals Nickel and Lithium, from waste batteries, significantly improving recycling efficiencies and metal purity from existing recovery routes. These batteries are found in everyday consumer products such as mobile phones, portable media players, etc., as well as other industrial equipment, and are prevalent in hybrid and electric vehicles, which are becoming increasingly widespread on our roads.

ELICiT (Environmentally Low Impact Cooling Technology, EU budget contribution: €2.12 mln, Project coordinator: Whirlpool Europe srl, Comerio, Italy): ELICiT's activities will help efficient gas-free magnetic cooling move from being a laboratory scale technology to being a high-volume marketable product. This project specifically focuses on the application of magnetic cooling technology to the domestic refrigeration market. This is a technology being developed by SMEs but which will eventually be used by global appliance manufacturers. The project aims to enhance the collaboration between SMEs, global appliance manufacturers, universities and research centres.

ILLUMINATE (Automated Sorting and Recycling of Waste Lamps, EU budget contribution: € 1.77 mln, Project coordinator: C-Tech Innovation Limited, Chester, United Kingdom): The concept of the ILLUMINATE proposal is to develop automated systems that are able to effectively sort bulbs into different classes and remove foreign objects. This is essential for an economically viable process. An automated, sealed sorting unit will be created. It will be based on a sensor system combined with self-learning processing unit and will be able to recognize shapes, colours materials, and/or weight. To remedy the current situation where there is little or no separation of mercury containing from non-mercury containing materials from bulbs at end of life, the ILLUMINATE project will develop methods and processes for two main areas of the supply chain: collection of the waste streams and sorting of the waste.

ManureEcoMine (Green fertilizer upcycling from manure: Technological, economic and environmental sustainability demonstration, EU budget contribution: €3.80 mln, Project coordinator: Universiteit Gent, Gent, Belgium): European pigs and cows jointly produce about 1.27 billion tonnes of manure per year, a largely unexploited resource of organic carbon and nutrients. ManureEcoMine proposes an integrated approach to the treatment and reuse of animal husbandry waste in nitrate vulnerable and sensitive areas and beyond, by applying the eco-innovative principles of sustainability, resource recovery and energy efficiency. Technologies of proven efficacy in the wastewater treatment field will be combined in several process configurations to demonstrate their technological and environmental potential at pilot scale for cow and pig manure.

PILOT-ABP (Pilot plant for environmentally friendly animal by-products industries, EU budget contribution: €1.79 mln, Project coordinator: Instituto Tecnológico del Calzado y Conexas, Elda, Spain): Animal by-products (ABPs) are materials of animal origin that people do not consume and represent a significant part of the biowaste stream. Over 20 million tons emerge annually from EU from slaughterhouses, plants producing food for human consumption, dairies and as fallen stock from farms. In Europe, there is an increasing requirement for selecting solutions which demonstrate the best available technique for the treatment of ABP wastes. The PILOT-ABP project aims at developing new eco-innovative technologies associated to the animal by-products process, which allow on one hand an environmental improvement of the process, thanks to a more efficient consumption of the energy used in the process and a better recovery of raw materials, with a related decreasing in wastes production, and on the other hand an increasing of the added value of the obtained products which leads to a better financial profitability of SMEs.

PlasCarb (Innovative plasma based transformation of food waste into high value graphitic carbon and renewable hydrogen, EU budget contribution: €3.78 mln, Project coordinator: Centre for Process Innovation Limited, Redcar, United Kingdom): 140 million tonnes of food and plant waste produced annually in Europe. PlasCarb aims to transform this into a sustainable source of significant economic added value, ie. high value graphitic carbon and renewable hydrogen. The vast majority of hydrogen and carbon used today in industry are derived from fossil petroleum sources, the majority of which are imported into the EU from regions which are often politically unstable or competitive. PlasCarb will extend beyond current Best Available Techniques (BAT) in the valorisation of food waste of anaerobic digestion (AD) in order to generate renewable energy.

Recycal (High Shear Processing of Recycled Aluminium Scrap for Manufacturing High Performance Aluminium Alloys, EU budget contribution: €2.40 mln, Project coordinator: TWI Limited, Cambridge, United Kingdom): Secondary aluminium (post-consumer scrap) previously downgraded into low quality cast products, or exported, could now be transformed into a low cost, low carbon feedstock for wrought product and high quality castings by the adoption of the innovative technology. Recycle will bridge the gap from research to industrialization through the involvement of a research-capable SME who will design and manufacture a prototype small industrial-scale HSP unit and then make recommendations regarding improved equipment design and likely process costs. Other SME partners will assist with economic modelling, through a life cycle analysis, which will comprise the costs of the process and the energy savings together with the carbon footprint impact.

REEcover (Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from magnetic waste in the WEEE recycling industry and tailings from the iron ore industry, EU budget contribution: € 6.00 mln, Project coordinator: Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet NTNU, Trondheim, Norway): REEcover aims to improve European supply of the critical Rare Earth Elements and to strengthen SME positions in the production and recovery value chain. It demonstrates and compares the viability and potential for these routes on two different types of deposited industrial wastes: tailings from the iron ore industry and magnetic waste, which both have potential of becoming valuable feedstock.

ReFraSort (Innovative Separation Technologies for High Grade Recycling of Refractory Waste using non-destructive technologies, EU budget contribution: € 1.75 mln, Project coordinator: Vlaamse Instelling Voor Technologisch Onderzoek N.V., Mol, Belgium): Refractory products are a vital element in all high-temperature processes and represent a substantial global market. Reuse of refractory material has a high potential to reduce waste production and primary raw material consumption. The aim of the ReFraSort project is to ensure that the developed technology is adapted to the needs of the refractory producing and recycling industry, and to maximize its valorisation potential, clear boundary conditions such as quality criteria for separation, economic feasibility and environmental impact will be defined. The industrial application potential will be proven by the production and assessment of refractory material with a significant content of secondary raw material.

ResCoM (Resource Conservative Manufacturing- transforming waste into high value resource through closed-loop product systems, EU budget contribution: €4.37 mln, Project coordinator: Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan, Stockholm, Sweden): In a world with growing pressures on resources and the environment, the EU has no choice but to go for the transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy. The main objective of the ResCoM project is to develop an innovative framework and a collaborative software platform for the industrial implementation of closed-loop manufacturing systems. Pilot operations will demonstrate how the collecting, remanufacturing and upcycling of discarded products into new added-value products will be cost-effective, resource-efficient and more sustainable than the current linear manufacturing systems. To support pilot operations, the ResCoM consortium will develop a software platform consisting of a closed-loop product lifecycle management module coupled with a materials information module.

ShredderSort (Selective recovery of non-ferrous metal automotive shredder by combined electromagnetic tensor spectroscopy and laser-induced plasma spectroscopy, EU budget contribution: €3.38 mln, Project coordinator: Lenz Instruments SL, Cornellá de Llobregat, Spain): Every year, more than 50 million vehicles reach the end of their service life throughout the World. In the EU, the amount of waste generated by the automotive industry rose up to 10 million tonnes in 2010, and it is foreseen that it will increase by 40% until 2015. Thus, the appropriate recycling of this waste has important implications from the environmental point of view. About 8% of the total weight in the automotive shredder corresponds to non-ferrous metals, which is often processed by Heavy Media Separation, and handsorting. This project aims at developing a new dry sorting technology for non-ferrous automotive shredder. First, shredder will be separated into different metals, based on their conductivity.

SIKELOR (Silicon kerf loss recycling, EU budget contribution: € 1.40 mln, Project coordinator: Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf E, Dresden, Germany): Solar energy direct conversion to electricity is expanding rapidly to satisfy the demand for renewable energy. The most efficient commercial photovoltaic solar cells are based on silicon. While the reuse of feedstock is a severe concern of the photovoltaic industry, up to 50% of the valuable resource is lost into sawdust during wafering. Presently, the majority of silicon ingots are sliced in thin wafers by LAS (loose abrasive sawing) using slurry of abrasive silicon carbide particles. It is expected that FAS will replace LAS almost completely by 2020 for poly/mono-crystalline wafering. The intention of the proposed project is to recycle the FAS loss aiming at a sustainable solution.

Additional information on these and other relevant EU environmental technology projects can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/environment/index_en.cfm?pg=technologies

About European research and innovation funding

In 2014 the European Union will launch a new, seven year research and innovation funding programme called Horizon 2020. Since 2007 the EU has already invested nearly €50 billion in research and innovation projects to support Europe's economic competitiveness and extend the frontiers of human knowledge. The EU research budget represents around 12% of total public spending on research by the EU's 28 member states and is focused mainly in areas like health, the environment, transport, food and energy. Research partnerships with the pharmaceutical, aerospace, car and electronics industries have also been formed to encourage private sector investment in support of future growth and high skill job creation. Horizon 2020 will have an even greater focus on turning excellent ideas into marketable products, processes and services.

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Horizon 2020: http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/