Advanced techniques for recovery of non-ferrous metals from municipal solid waste

Wens, B.; Schmalbein, N.; Pretz, T.; Gillner, R.
February 2010
Journal of Solid Waste Technology & Management;Feb2010, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p215
Academic Journal
Due to the EU waste directive, treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW) in Europe has become obligatory. Incineration and mechanical-biological treatment are the most important treatment alternatives today. In contrary to landfilling new processing ways enable the recovery of materials contained in MSW. Compared to other waste components (e.g. plastics, wood, textiles) non-ferrous metals (NF-metals) exhibit better reusability and higher market values. Production from primary resources is limited in source and extremely energy consuming. Thus, recycling of NF-metals can largely contribute to energy saving and reduction of CO2 emissions. The accessibility depends on the design of the recovery process and the technologies applied. With eddy current separators multi-component NF-concentrates are extracted from waste streams. These have to be separated in order to generate metal products that exhibit sufficient purities for re-use with high market values. State of the art techniques used for the separation and purification of the different metals exhibit weaknesses such as the generation of wastewater or high prices of manual labor in high-income countries. This situation demands the development of new approaches in accessing the contained resources, whereas the technical requirements depend on the origin of the NF-concentrate. Optimized and adapted automated sensor-based sorting systems that are able to identify different NF-metals are an applicable solution.


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