Research & Development
We would like to join the many intelligent individuals who have recognized that progress is an important factor for making the world a better place.
Below are just some of the projects we have participated in:
2021-today: PROJECT „SyKuRA“
With “Systemic plastics recycling from end-of-life vehicles”, SICON is part of a new research project for the future of plastics recycling from shredder residues. Vehicle trim, seat upholstery, bumpers – around 1.5 million tons of a wide variety of plastics are used in passenger cars in Germany every year. Instead of being recycled, much of the plastic waste from end-of-life vehicles ends up in industrial shredder plants for thermal waste treatment. A joint research project of SICON GmbH, Volkswagen AG, BASF AG and the University of Clausthal under the direction of the Ökoinstitut Freiburg is now addressing this ecological as well as economic plight. The project pursues a multipolar recycling approach and aims to solve the problems of plastics recycling from end-of-life vehicles or shredder residues systemically and holistically. The multiple award-winning VW-SICON process has created the basis for this through its modular approach to generating specification-compliant end products that can be adapted to the individual requirements of shredder operators. Since 2006, large quantities of so-called low-PVC shredder granulate have been supplied to the blast furnace plants of Voest Alpine Stahl Linz GmbH and Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH for metallurgical utilization as a substitute reducing agent. The now gratifying renaissance of chemical recycling opens up new complementary opportunities in the medium term, but also challenges, which the research project addresses. Since the development of the VW-SICON process, SICON has already been working on a multipolar recycling approach that enables a wide range of uses for the separated plastic fractions.
2017-2020: PROJECT „MetalSens“
Within the framework of “MetalSens”, existing processes are made purposefully usable for the recovery of technology metals from electronic scrap. The new development of sensor technology taking into account the requirements of upstream and downstream process steps is intended to close the gap between research and current industrial application. In an innovative way, “MetalSens” considers the entire recycling process. This includes the parameter-optimized and thus less dust-releasing denesting as well as the new development of sortable sensor technology for small component sizes. Economic advantages result from the resale of previously unused resources and a lower primary material requirement. Lower-dust process control also increases the amount of raw materials and reduces emissions, which also lowers costs. “MetalSens” addresses issues that currently prevent the recovery of the metals under consideration.
The project consortium combines extensive experience in the areas of comminution and separation of (electronic) scrap, analytical measurement technology, metallurgical process technology and metal recycling as well as design and optimization of process chains. In addition to SICON and the Fraunhofer IPT, the consortium consists of the IME of the RWTH Aachen University as scientific partner, LLA Instruments GmbH, and associated and consulting Aurubis AG.
2013-2015: PROJECT „REGRAN“
The project focuses on developing an innovative engineered fuel as granulate consisting of shredder residues derived from end-of-life vehicle recycling (ReGran) with defined properties suited specifically for gasification. The mixed fuel granulate are to be produced using a heated trough mixer and thus represents an alternative production process compared to the energy-intensive pelletization process. In order to reduce the energy requirement, a concept is being developed in the project to utilize industrial waste heat for heating up the mixer by means of induction. The project is a joint venture between SICON and Universität Siegen, Faculty for Energy and Process Engineering and is supported by ZIM (Central Innovation Program for Medium-sized Enterprises).
2010-2014: PROJECT „PROTECT“
The low-carbon galvanized steels normally used in automotive bodies and appliances are a source of high-quality scrap feed for both BOF and EAF steel production. The aim of this project was to develop a new method to preheat and remove coatings on steel scrap prior to melting as a standalone concept, decoupling the preheating from the off-gas streams from the melting furnace. As energy carrier for the concept energy containing difficult waste streams are to be used.
As part of this project a new method has been developed to promote synergetic use of low-value energy rich waste, combined with cleaning and preheating of zinc-containing steel scrap. In all scrap preheating applications, the exhaust gases generated can contain difficult compounds which need a dedicated gas cleaning system to handle these. The increased emission of harmful dust and hazardous air emission is regardless of the fuel used since these are originated from the impurities and organic coating on the scrap itself. Zinc coating on steel is used to increase the corrosion resistance of the steel. The low-carbon galvanized steels normally used in automotive bodies and appliances are a source of high quality scrap feed for both BOF and EAF steel production. Although there have been development of technology for removal of the galvanized coatings, the protracted delays in achievement of an economically viable solution have forced most BOF operators to implement alternative methodologies to maintain environmental compliance (EAF operations, with higher dust disposal cost, benefit to some extent from the value of the contained zinc units). PROTECT project focus on developing methods for efficient separation of energy containing waste streams into valuable feed be used in scrap preheating and surface cleaning application. Tests conducted in the project have shown that it is possible to separate waste (plastic, rubber etc.) fractions into various streams useful streams, to thermo-chemically convert these into a syngas, through separate combustion, use the exhaust gases generated preheat scrap and remove coatings, through a dedicated gas cleaning and recovery system recover valuables. Theoretical evaluation shows that the concept is positive both from environmental and economic standpoint.
PROTECT has been supported by the European Commission and has been performed by the partners SICON, MEFOS, SSAB, Engitec, Stena Metall AB, University of Siegen, IVL AB, SSUP and Stenal Metall A/S.
2009-2013: PROJECT „SHREDDERSAND 1“
So-called shredder sands are produced during the processing of residues generated, for instance, in the patented VW-SICON process during the comminution of end-of-life vehicles, household appliances, and mixed scrap. A process was developed to recover fine-grain shredder sands (less than 1mm in size) during the course of the BMBF-funded joint project “Shredder Sand” with project partners Volkswagen AG, SICON GmbH, Recylex GmbH and the Institute of Mineral and Waste Processing, Waste Disposal and Geomechanics (IFAD) of Technische Universität Clausthal (TU Clausthal). At the same time, a method was developed that also separates the mineral or siliceous material flow in addition to the other product flows. Thanks to the cooperation of IFAD with the Recycling Work Group of the Department of Building Materials at the F.A. Finger-Institute for Building Material Sciences of Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Building Materials Technology Department of BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, it was possible to identify an innovative and high-grade application route for this mineral material flow from shredder sands. To this end, a new process is used for generating swelling granulates (light-weight aggregrate) from heterogeneous fine-grain building and demolition wastes. This requires the preceding processing step of the shredder sands based on the process developed in the “Shredder Sand” project. The process and the resulting opportunities have already been presented in the magazine entitled “Recycling”. During the course of the multi-stage process, organic components are separated from the shredder sands (< 1 mm) by means of flotation and wet separation table. Afterwards, the iron concentrate is separated in the magnet stage such that it can be reused by the industry as input material. Copper concentrates which are also circulated back to the industry are then generated in the downstream milling and screening steps.