Landfill sites can give rise to different risks. In particular, older sites predating the introduction of government regulations, which tend to be filled with municipal solid waste and lack modern landfill technology, will soon require costly remediation measures to avoid future environmental and health problems. In Europe, there are between 150,000 and 500,000 landfill sites, of which an estimated 90% are “non sanitary” landfills predating the EU Landfill Directive of 1999. Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM) has the potential of providing a solution that could dramatically reduce future remediation costs and reclaim valuable land while unlocking precious resources.
The four-year NEW-MINE research project, led by KU Leuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals SIM 2 , was launched in 2016 to look into different aspects of Enhanced Landfill Mining. Its aim is to develop and integrate cutting-edge, eco-friendly ELFM technologies to valorize Europe’s landfills, recovering resources such as materials, energy and land, while mitigating future environmental and health risks and avoiding significant remediation costs.
The project has received funding from the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 and involves eight European universities, as well as companies from the private sector. Fifteen PhD students have been tasked with researching new technologies and testing them in four technical work packages that follow a value chain approach. From “Innovative landfill exploration and mechanical processing”, to “Solar/Plasma/Hybrid thermochemical conversion” and “Advanced upcycling”. The fourth work package applies multi-criteria assessment methods to compare combined resource-recovery/remediation, that is ELFM, with the “Do-nothing’, “Classic remediation”, and “Classic landfill mining with (co-incineration)” approaches.
In July 2020, Stadler Anlagenbau revealed that RWTH Aachen University, one of the project’s partners, has invited the company to participate, contributing its expertise and equipment. The company previously played an important role in the first work package, dedicated to mechanical processing. The main goal was to identify ways of improving the quality of the fractions in order to produce RDF, which has a variety of applications. Another important goal was to research uses for fine fraction, which accounts for more than 50% of the waste in landfill mining, and currently has no utilization. The project showed that further mechanical separation of fine fraction can produce sand for use as an aggregate in the construction sector. The light fraction can also be used in a thermo-valorization process.
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NEW-MINE research project website: http://new-mine.eu