"K" Trade Fair: From waste to raw material

A sustainable society, the renunciation of fossil raw materials, climate-neutral processes - the chemical industry has committed itself to these goals. For the industry, this means an enormous challenge within the next few years and de-cades. Researchers from seven Fraunhofer institutes are pooling their expertise in the "Waste4Future" lighthouse project to make these goals tangible. The team of experts demonstrated at the Fraunhofer booth at the "K" trade fair in Düsseldorf from October 19 to 26, 2022 how new possibilities for recycling can be created and, at the same time, how high-quality starting materials can be produced as a "green" resource for the chemical industry.

Waste4Future at K-Fair

"Waste4Future" thus paves the way for a circular carbon economy in which valuable new basic molecules are extracted from plastic waste and emissions are largely avoided: Today's waste becomes tomorrow's resource and at the same time reduces industry's dependence on imported primary carbon resources such as oil and natural gas.


Recycling chain is reorganized and aligned with the material flow


The plan is to develop a holistic, entropy-based assessment model that reorganizes the recycling chain into a materials-guided chain, which has been process-guided to date. A new type of guided sorting recognizes which materials and in particular which plastic fractions are contained in the waste. A suitable decision is then made as to which recyc-ling route is the most technically, ecologically and economically sensible for this specific waste quantity.


Partial flows instead of disorder enable more carbon conservation

System optimization no longer lies in the optimization of the individual process, but in the entropy-optimized separation of the total flow and the targeted allocation to the energetically optimized recycling processes. A material flow is broken down into its sub-flows, which are then assigned to different processing routes on the basis of a technolo-gy hierarchy. What cannot be further utilized by material recycling (mechanical recyc-ling, solvent-based purification and fractionation) is available for chemical recycling (sol-volysis, pyrolysis and gasification), always with the aim of maximizing the retention of carbon compounds. Thermal recycling at the end of the chain is thus eliminated.

© Fraunhofer IWKS
Modular Sorting Plant at the Fraunhofer-Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS