In Germany the value creation of the processing industries is highly dependent on a stable and reliable supply of metallic and mineral raw materials. So-called vital metals are particularly important for the manufacture of many technical products and their medium and long term supply are essential for Germany.
Two of these vital metals are antimony and titanium. These are present in additives used in plastic housings for electronic and electrical equipment: Antimony trioxide is used as a flame retardant and titanium dioxide as a white pigment.
For high-tech countries such as Germany with limited own natural resources, an alternative means of acquiring these metals is to recover them by recycling waste electrical and electronic equipment. Hitherto, however, there has been no suitable industrial process for recovering antimony and titanium from waste plastic.
The objective of the Add Resources research project is to develop a technical process for recovering these metals, so allowing subsequent manufacture of "secondary" additives for reuse.
The solvent-based CreaSolv® Process, which was developed at the Fraunhofer IVV, enables plastics from waste electrical and electronic equipment to be recycled. The current project is now developing a new module that is able to precipitate titanium-rich and antimony-rich additive particles.
Dissolution of the additive containing plastics in customized CreaSolv® formulations will allow antimony and titanium to be separated from these solutions. Various separation techniques are being tested, and in the second phase of the project trials will be undertaken on a small pilot plant scale. At the end of the project the aim is to have process that can be operated under economically viable conditions. This challenge is being taken on by the Fraunhofer IVV in collaboration with industrial partners.
The Add Resources project is being undertaken under the "r4 - Innovative Technologies for Resource Efficiency - Research on the Processing of Industrially Vital Raw materials" funding program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).