To make sustainable use of our raw materials, we need to avoid waste generation and close material cycles. Our technologies are creating new possibilities that allow raw materials to be recycled from low-value residues and waste streams. This enables these waste materials to have a second life as new products.

Upcycling waste

VITO is developing new processes that enable waste streams to be upcycled. We can help you to develop new building materials from industrial and mineral waste streams, such as bottom ash and construction and demolition waste.

New appplications for industrial waste

If you extract the valuable particles, such as copper, steel and aluminum, or contaminants, from bottom ash, fly ash and dredging sediments, these materials can be transformed into valuable building materials.

From bottom ash to granulate

Bottom ash is the ash that is left behind at the bottom of the vessel in an incineration plant. At the moment, this ash is treated as waste and is often sent to landfill. In some cases, it is used as a replacement for sand and gravel during civil engineering works, road-building or waterway construction. VITO has developed and combined two innovative separation techniques that largely separate both the heavy and light metals from the ash.

Granulate as a raw material in concrete 

After removing the metals, the mineral fraction can be processed into a granulate that can be used to produce mortar and concrete. During the process, hydrogen gas is released, which forms an energy source in the production of natural gas and can be used in fuel cells.

The benefits of waste recuperation

  • Increase the returns from your waste streams
  • Decrease the cost of waste processing
  • Reach new market segments with innovative materials

In Flanders, a total of 250,000 tonnes of bottom ash is generated each year.
The Port of Antwerp processes 500,000 tonnes of dredging sediments per year. Transforming these streams into building materials makes sense.

Waste recuperation can be an added value for

  • Manufacturers of building materials
  • Waste incinerators
  • Waste-processing companies
  • Dredging companies

Amoras - dredging sediments as a building material 

The AMORAS project (Antwerp Mechanical Extraction, Recycling and Application of Sediments) in the Port of Antwerp processes dredging sediments from the River Scheldt into filter cakes. Using those filter cakes, a hill of 50 metres in height is now being built up under controlled conditions within the Port. On behalf of the Flemish government, VITO is collaborating with KU Leuven to develop a process that will transform the filter cakes into a cement substitute that can be used in the production of concrete.

From waste product to cement substitute 

In this process, the finely ground filter cakes are heated up very quickly to 800–900 °C and then immediately cooled down again. The water is removed from the material, creating glassy, amorphous pellets that react with cement. This can be used to replace part of the cement, drastically reducing CO2 emissions.

Tests are positive

Small scale testing has proved that the technology works. Currently, the Flemish government is looking for companies who can construct and run a plant that will process the filter cakes into cement substitutes.