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Resource Efficiency

New separation and recycling techniques could ease demand on raw materials


Researchers from the German research organisation, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, are developing new separation and sorting technologies that have the potential to curb the rapid rise in demand for raw materials. The research is being carried out under the ‘Molecular Sorting for Resource Efficiency’ project, which is part of Fraunhofer’s ‘Markets Beyond Tomorrow’ research programme. Read more…

A combination of dwindling supplies, growing demand in industrialising countries and stricter environmental regulations mean that raw materials are becoming extremely expensive. Global reserves of raw materials have been steadily declining for a number of years and forecasts suggest demand could double by 2030.

The aim of the project is to develop innovative recycling processes at the molecular level, which will enable existing resources to be recovered and reused in high-value applications on an industrial scale. One example of the benefits of this new technology is recycling for photovoltaics, which requires glass with minimal iron content so as not to affect the transmission of light. The new separation and sorting process will allow iron atoms to be removed from flat scrap glass to produce suitable high transparency glass.

Other examples include rare metals from slags and gases and high-quality wood materials from wood scrap. The project will develop techniques for recycling waste streams of glass, wood, composite materials, slags and hot gasses, and by the end of the project the developed processes should also be applicable to other material flows.

Find more info:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft press release

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