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Published: 2 March 2012  
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Environment  |  Industrial research  |  Health & life sciences  |  Success stories


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Microwaves blast dangers of asbestos

Ryszard Parosa, Supervising Board President at ATON-HT SA explained: "We have developed a new technology for the treatment of materials that contain asbestos".

Video in QuickTime format:  ar  en  es  fr  it  fa  pt  ru  tr  de  (9 MB)

The company's method sounds surprisingly simple; just zap the asbestos in a compact microwave at a 1,000 degrees Celsius, then once cooked, it is harmless.

Parosa continued: "Our technology can be used in a mobile system, which means our machine can be installed easily into a container. I think this is a very important advantage as it means we don't have to transport any dangerous waste."

ATON-HT's microwave technology could prove invaluable in Poland, where asbestos was widely used in construction until 1997.

Ewa Blazejowska, Vice President, ATON-HT SA described the process: "The problem with asbestos is that it contains fibres that go into the organism and these could cause cancer or other diseases. We've changed the structure of the material so there are no fibres inside. This means it's safe for the environment and for the people who work with it."

In Poland around 15 million tonnes of asbestos can still be found in landfills but not for much longer.

Blazejowska added: "Instead of leaving the problem of fibres and storage for the next generation, we can now deal with asbestos using microwave thermal treatment technology."

The EU driven project uses microwave technology to heat the asbestos evenly, meaning no fibres can escape. Once treated, the product that leaves the oven can be easily and safely re-used.

Parosa concluded: "The final product can, for example, be used to renovate roads. It can be mixed with cement to produce bricks and so on. Best of all, there's no waste left over."

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Futuris, the European research programme - on Euronews. The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme.

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