VTT: New technology concept developed to recover metal and plastic from WEEE

701
Electronic waste (Foto: INESby / Pixabay)

Espoo, Finland — VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a new electronic waste recycling concept that combines a range of technologies and reduces waste. One of the technologies included in the concept is gasification, which is used to recover not only metals and rare-earth elements from the waste, but also organic components that can be used to produce energy or products, such as plastic and chemicals. VTT has brought together a group of Finnish partners to promote material-efficient production.

Vast amounts of valuable raw materials are lost through recycling and processing: As much as half of all materials can end up in landfill. Products are becoming increasingly complex, which is why traditional mechanical recycling processes are no longer enough. Traditional recycling focuses only on recovering base metals and precious metals, such as gold, leaving other valuable resources, and especially hydrocarbon-containing organic matter, unutilised.

VTT has developed a recycling concept based on integrated technologies, which can be used to increase the efficiency of material recovery and reduce the use of virgin minerals and fossil resources. In addition to the mechanical sorting of waste, the range of techniques includes gasification, which is a thermal conversion process for separating not only metals but also organic materials that can then be used to produce energy or products, such as plastic and chemicals.

MINEWEE – the circular economy experiment

VTT’s role in the MINEWEE project is to build an industrial ecosystem for recovering critical raw materials from metallic waste, such as residues from electronic waste processing. The project team is currently developing a process for handling electronic waste as well as circuit board and shredder residue, which consists of scrap pretreatment, mechanical separation of metals, gasification and hydrometallurgical unit processes. VTT’s tasks in the project include pretreating and characterising materials, thermal conversion and the associated chemical dissolution. Aalto University focuses on recovering rare-earth elements.

MINEWEE is one of Tekes’s Challenge Finland projects, and the project consortium includes businesses from all levels of the value chain, such as metal waste processing companies and technology suppliers. In addition to VTT and Aalto University, the consortium currently consists of Loimi-Hämeen Jätehuolto Oy, BMH Technology Oy, Kuusakoski Oy, Stena Recycling Oy, Technology Industries of Finland, Finnish Car Recycling Ltd and Global EcoSolutions Oy. Building new value chains and piloting technologies will take place in VTT’s BIORUUKKI pilot centre in Espoo during 2018. The goal is to prove the effectiveness of the techniques from the pretreatment of waste to the recovery of new raw materials in practice.

Source. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd