INSTAnTCopyright: © Department of Processing and Recycling (I.A.R.)
Within the European Union, more than 400 Waste-to-Energy plants are currently in use to convert 88 million tonnes of waste (municipal, commercial and industrial) to generate energy and decrease the volume of these waste streams. This thermal process produces approximately 18 Mt of bottom ash which could be considered as the ‘final sink’ for many End-of-Life products. Important quantities of metals (ferrous and non ferrous) and minerals (both industrial minerals and minerals for construction) are present in these bottom ashes offering a great opportunity for recycling and turning this complex waste into new raw materials.
The objective of the INSTAnT project is to close the material cycle of resources/materials present in bottom ashes by using smart recycling technologies to 1) optimise process conditions in bottom ash treatment plants to maximize metal recovery; 2) separate out a valorizable pure glass fraction, and 3) detect and remove impuritities that hamper the high-grade recycling of the mineral fraction.
INSTAnT will develop innovative sensor-based characterization technology allowing for fast, non-destructive, reliable material characterization to create data-driven decision tools for bottom ash treatment plant optimization and enhanced resource recovery (metals and minerals). This technology is based on machine learning and will turn big data into useful information by using artificial intelligence.
Furthermore, INSTAnT will adopt a novel sensor-based sorting technology to separate glass from the mineral fraction of bottom ash. This will not only generate a new valorizable glass fraction, but also increase the quality of the mineral fraction to be used as high-grade construction material.
All parts from the knowledge triangle are presented within the consortium of INSTAnT with partners coming from academia (RWTH), research (VITO) and business (SUEZ, TOMRA, XRE). This and the different research aspects coming from the process engineering field, waste management and information technology show the extent of interdiscipliarity covered within the INSTAnT project.
INSTAnT is funded as a joint project within the framework of ERA-MIN 2 (Research & Innovation Programme on Raw Materials to Foster Circular Economy). ERA-MIN 2 is an international funding network supported by the EU under Horizon 2020. In Germany, ERA-MIN 2 is implemented by the BMBF in the research programme FONA³ (Research for Sustainable Development).