This blog explores how innovation in waste utilisation and symbiosis can reduce environmental impact and improve competitiveness.
Waste utilisation and symbiosis
The foundation industries require large inputs of raw materials. From ores, to pulp, to minerals and fossil fuels, the building blocks of the process routes are vast. Although most are utilised efficiently through the production process, a large variety of wastes are generated in varying forms and quantities.
- What can be done to maximise the financial value of these materials?
- What can be done to minimise the detrimental effects disposal could have upon our planet?
- What can be done to achieve the maximum energy extraction from these wastes?
- And whilst necessary for the processes to occur, could virgin raw materials be traded for a more energy efficient alternative?
Could this be achieved by interconnecting these often-disparate industries to become an interlocked resource web and what challenges will be faced in facilitating these connections in terms of transport, safety, quality control?
If this discussion around waste utilisation and symbiosis piques your interest, please join us for our upcoming webinar series on this topic starting on the 30th September.
The Fast Start Competition, the first collaborative R&D competition run by the Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge, provided up to £5 million.
The funding was for cross-sector, collaborative, short duration feasibility studies and industrial research and development projects that focused upon common resource and energy efficiency opportunities.
The first of 13 successful projects launched on the 1st July.
Waste utilisation and symbiosis was the focus of a number of Fast Start projects identifying different approaches to waste utilisation.
This includes mapping opportunities for symbiosis across regions and sectors, exploring the innovative development of products, and uplifting the value of waste streams from the foundation industries.
South Wales With Both Eyes Open
This project brings together a consortium of 13 partners from South Wales covering the metals, paper, chemicals, and cement sectors locally, and is led by Environmental Resources Management Ltd.
With a wealth of plant data between them, they aim to analyse and co-map material and energy flows across South Wales, as well as identify potential opportunities for collaboration.
This would support the industrial circular economy vision and open new opportunities for improved energy and resource efficiency across the region.
Paper, Ash and Resin: Valorisation of Foundation Industry Waste Streams
A consortium with expertise in the cost-effective processing and utilisation of waste streams, led by Cambond Ltd, will develop an innovative manufacturing platform for the utilisation of waste streams from the chemicals, metals, ceramics and paper industries.
Utilising existing expertise in cost efficient processing of by-products into high value biomaterials and waste stream utilisation, the project will develop a robust plan to drive the commercial development of a new low carbon materials technology for the construction and ceramics sectors in the UK.
This provides an opportunity for these sectors to not only have an additional and socially responsible alternative to landfill disposal, but a low cost and reduced carbon footprint raw material could be purchased as a replacement to the scarce and expensive virgin materials.
Upgrading the value of Basic Oxygen Steel (BOS) slag by addition of difficult to recycle glass or slags
The Materials Processing Institute (MPI) leads a consortium from the steel and glass industries, to develop a suitable amalgamation of glass and steel waste steams for use as a substitute for virgin aggregate in the top surface of road tarmac.
The UK steel industry produces approximately 500 kT/year of slag, some of which is used for tarmac, but the skid resistance does not meet regulations for the top surface of roads.
Modifying this slag using increased silica has been identified as having the potential to improve skid resistance to the levels required for the top surface of roads, increasing the value of this waste material.
The slag modifier that is added could come from desulphurisation slag which is generated elsewhere in the steelmaking process, or from streams within the glass industry, for which there is currently no use for either.
The full list of projects can be found here Fast Start Project Winners.
This is an exciting time for these industries, with the opportunity for transformational changes in the processes, approaches, or products.
For the first time in these traditionally independent industries, funding is providing opportunities to develop resource efficiency improvements and innovation acceleration across multiple sectors.
These projects are just the beginning of what will be achieved through this ISCF Challenge, with the implementation of sustainable improvements being facilitated by a series of targeted interventions and we are eager to hear about any ideas you may have.
We are now open for applications for the next round of funding. For details of this open competition and to keep up to date with the new challenge announcements visit the Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge Website.
Follow Sarah on Twitter at @Dr_S_Connolly
You can go to the Innovate UK website