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Research Research Institutes Institute of Applied Resource Strategies (IARS)

Institute of Applied Resource Strategies (IARS)

The increase in the world population coupled with rising prosperity and new innovations has led to an increased production and use of more products, that reach their end-of-life earlier and earlier. These developments require a rapidly increasing demand for material resources such as ceramics, base and technology metals, biomaterials and fossil raw materials. In order to meet the ecological and economic challenges that the aforementioned developments bring and the social challenges that come with them, sustainable resource strategy action is necessary. This includes the closed-loop recycling of material resources as well as the substitution of particularly supply-critical materials with less critical ones and, in general, the efficient use of resources in products and processes With this background in mind, the Institute for Applied Resource Strategies (IARS) aims to contribute with its work to overcome the challenges in the field of resource use described above.

Objectives

  • Implementation of application-oriented research and development projects
  • Development of sustainable technologies (in principle, a sustainability assessment of the developed technologies is carried out with regard to economic, ecological and social factors)
  • Up-scaling of the technologies developed on a laboratory scale and support in setting up pilot plants with industrial partners
  • Knowledge transfer by involving students and doctoral candidates in research and development, by designing further courses of study and continuing education programs for industrial partners (especially SMEs)
  • International cooperation within the framework of development promotion projects in the field of research and further education

Accomplished through the Institute’s competencies and focal points

  • Technological ways of recycling material resources
    • Innovative and sustainable recycling technologies (Focus: Material composites and mixed waste with plastics and metals)
    • Ways to remanufacture and reuse
    • Thermal waste treatment (focus: pyrolysis and gasification)
    • Decarbonization and bioplastics
  • Substitution of supply critical materials
  • Sustainability considerations
  • Material- and energy-efficient production
  • Battery and fuel cell research
  • Waste-to-energy and waste-to-resource research

Team

  • Prof. Dr. Gesa Beck, Managing Director and the First Scientific Director
  • Prof. Dr. Mathias Wickleder, Second Scientific Director of the Institute
  • Prof. Dr. Osvaldo Romero
  • Matthias Raab
  • Bum-Ki Choi
  • Adriana Bernal
  • Arantza Ramirez
  • Master student: Gautam Tyagi

Partners

  • Florian Sauer (Head of Development), Mairec Edelmetallrecyclinggesellschaft mbH, Alzenau
  • Markus Krall (Managing Director), Krall Kunststoff-Recycling GmbH, Elsenfeld
  • Dr. Till Wolfram (Managing Director), Tungsten Consulting, Berlin
  • Martin Kirsch (Managing Director), Kirsch Kunststofftechnik GmbH, Ebersbach
  • Dr. Wolfram Palitzsch (CTO), Loser Chemie GmbH, Freiberg
  • Prof. Dr. Anke Weidenkaff (Institute Director), Fraunhofer IWKS, Alzenau und Hanau
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Czinki and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hartmut Bruhm (Laboratory Manager), Technical University of Aschaffenburg
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd Friedrich (Institute Director), IME Metallurgical Process Engineering and Metal Recycling, RWTH Aachen University

Ongoing projects

Technical development and construction of a pilot plant for the economically and ecologically sensible recycling of metal/plastic composite materials- ReComp

The Chinese import ban on various types of waste (especially plastic waste) for 2018 represents both a challenge and an opportunity for Germany and local companies to integrate the recycling of this waste in the country. Economically and ecologically sensible technologies must be developed for this purpose. Within the framework of the project applied for here, the recycling of a plastic composite - namely metallized PC/ABS - is to be considered a special challenge. These composites accumulate in large quantities, especially in the automotive industry, and their recycling entails the risk that toxic waste water may be generated. In the process to be developed, both the metal layer (usually copper, nickel and chromium) and the engineering plastic are to be recovered in a single type. In addition to physical processes, chemical and electrochemical processes will be considered, whereby the properties of the plastic must not be negatively affected. After successful laboratory tests, the various recycling paths are to be evaluated economically and ecologically and a sustainable pilot plant is to be built.

Duration: 01.12.2018 – 30.05.2021

Project partners: Technical University Aschaffenburg Krall Plastics Recycling GmbH

Development and evaluation of innovative recycling routes to recover tantalum from electronic waste - IRETA 2

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding a consortium from science and industry for the further development of an innovative process for the recycling of tantalum from old electrical equipment with around 1,400,000 euros. The joint project "IRETA 2" is the follow-up project to the completed "IRETA" project. The aim is to recover tantalum in an economically sensible and ecologically compatible manner. The results are to be implemented in a pilot plant.

The current recycling rate of tantalum in end-of-life applications of less than 0.1 % clearly shows the need for action for the national recycling industry. Due to the uncertain supply situation, tantalum was included by the European Commission in 2017 in the list of critical raw materials and is also covered by the regulation on minerals from conflict areas (Regulation (EU) 2017/821). It is a key element in many future technologies such as superalloys for aerospace, the chemical industry, medical technology and, in the main application area, as a tantalum capacitor in electronics.

The aim of the project is to develop an overall process for the recovery of tantalum from printed circuit boards from electronic scrap and to refine the recovered tantalum capacitors to elemental tantalum with a purity > 99.5 %. In order to achieve this, a pilot plant will be designed based on the findings of the previous project "IRETA", in which the capacitors on the printed circuit boards will be detected fully automatically and then denucleated by laser. The further concentration of tantalum is carried out mechanically and electrochemically. The developed plant concept should meet both economic and ecological requirements. This is intended to establish secondary production, which will lead to a reduction of tantalum imports from primary production. This will bring economic advantages for the industry and contribute decisively to the security of supply in Germany.

Duration: 01.03.2020 to 28.02.2022

Project partners:

  • Mairec Precious Metals Company Ltd
  • robotics technology GmbH
  • smart services
  • SLCR Laser Technology GmbH
  • Tantec Ltd.
  • Tungsten Consulting
  • Bifa Environmental Institute GmbH
  • Fraunhofer Application Center Resource Efficiency ARess

Recycling of glass and silicon cells from PV systems – ReGCell

The German Federal Foundation for the Environment (DBU) is funding a consortium from science and industry for the development of an economically and ecologically sensible process for the recycling of flat glass and silicon cells from photovoltaic thick-film modules with around 90,000 euros. The aim of the "ReGCell" joint project is to recover intact silicon cells and intact solar glass from thick-film modules.

Though the amount of waste generated by uninstalled PV systems in the EU has been low to date (3,800 t in 2008), this amount of waste will increase significantly in the future. While today about 90 % of PV modules are based on crystalline silicon and only about 10 % on thin-film technologies, the increasing installation of thin-film solar cells will increase the amount of waste to about 20 % in 2020. In addition to the increasing amount of waste due to deinstallation, the demand for raw materials will also rise due to the increasing installation volume. For this reason, the development of suitable recycling paths is necessary, which ideally will allow the materials used to be completely recycled. The focus here is on the recycling of thick-film modules, as these will make up the majority of discarded modules in the foreseeable future. Various chemical and thermal processes (microwave processes) are to be tested to delaminate the modules and remove the glass. In contrast to the environmentally and health-damaging chemicals predominantly used today, the chemical processes will use ecologically safer organosulfonic acids and organic solvents (green chemistry). With current recycling methods, the solar glass is mainly destroyed and thus only fed into the usual glass recycling process and thus only obtained as hollow glass (down recycling). In contrast, this project aims to preserve the high-quality properties of PV glass (as flat glass) and make it available for reuse (re-manufacturing). In addition, the silicon cells are also to remain intact so that they can also be reused in applications where less power is required.

Duration: 15.02.2020 to 14.11.2020 (9 months)

Project partners:

  • TH Aschaffenburg
  • Fraunhofer Application Center for Resource Efficiency (ARess)
  • IME Metallurgical Process Engineering and Metal Recycling
  • VDE Renewables GmbH

Teaching

The current and future projects as well as the equipment of the laboratory in Adlershof should not only contribute to research and development, but also be used in teaching.

  • Discussion and further development of research results with students in lectures. Specifically, in the following modules:
    • Materials Science and Physical Chemistry
    • Environmental Analytics
    • Sustainable Residue, Waste and Water Processing Technologies
    • Sustainable Waste Processing and Managing
    • Waster Processing
  • Processing in theses and projects
  • Dissertations

Master student: Gautam Tyagi

With the increasing demand of lithium-ion batteries with wide application in electronic devices, in next few years, there will be huge amount of spent LIBs available for recycling. In this research work, a new laboratory scale electrochemical recycling process will be developed to recover valuable metals such as Li and Co. This process describes development of an optimized desalination process to recycle Li & Co from spent LIBs in its various steps. In this process, the reference electrode is made of Pt and an Al electrode is used as a working electrode (vice-versa) with other referencing electrodes which are made of Cu and graphite. The electrolytic liquid solution is mixture of Co2SO4 (0.2 mol/l), Li2SO4 (0.2 mol/l) and CH4SO3 as well. Cyclic voltametric and amperometric measurements are made at different voltages with different scan rate values. The main work aim is to discharge dissolved Li2+ and Co2+ ions in the solution at different voltages, electrodeposit them on to the graphite electrode.

Prof. Dr. Gesa Beck is leading this research work as main scientific supervisor.