Munich / May 30, 2022 - June 03, 2022
IFAT is the world's leading trade fair for environmental technologies and the largest international platform for exchange in the fields of water, sewage, waste and raw materials management. The trade fair is held every two years at the exhibition center in Munich.
At the Fraunhofer joint booth B2.215/314, Fraunhofer ILT scientists will present research and development results on the following topics, among others, at IFAT 2022:
Together with partners from Germany and abroad, Fraunhofer ILT is breaking new ground in the development and implementation of modern recycling processes. Instead of mining raw materials, the recovery of valuable materials is based on the recycling of parts and components that are no longer used. Thanks to the use of lasers, valuable materials of high economic importance can be efficiently recycled on an industrial scale, thus reducing Germany's and Europe's dependence on raw material supplies from other regions of the world.
Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is one of the technologies used for this purpose, allowing particularly fast and accurate material identification. This makes it possible to identify a large number of elements or constituents even in small samples or parts – automatically, quickly and contact-free. Machines that have been developed combine, for example, laser technology, image processing and robotics in several processing stages. Lasers are suitable here for diverse tasks, such as 3D measurement technology, real-time identification of ingredients, or non-contact desoldering. This allows components to be selectively dismantled or valuable alloys to be separated in order to achieve high grade purities in short times. Developed technologies are already being used in industrial practice by partner companies and function reliably.
Metals are among the raw materials that can be recycled with virtually no loss of quality, provided they are collected separately with high purity. Laser processes are being developed at Fraunhofer ILT that allow faster, more accurate and more efficient detection and sorting of alloys in metal scrap compared to conventional methods. The LIBS method can be used to analyze the composition of alloy components for scrap pieces on a conveyor belt and determine the associated sorting class. Multielement analysis enables the rapid detection of a large number of alloys. In order to exploit this potential, automatic sorting is being implemented with robots in addition to established separation techniques. A corresponding pilot plant has been put into operation in an industrial recycling company to sort special alloys such as high-speed steels or hard metals fully automatically.
In the European project REVaMP, Fraunhofer ILT is collaborating on making existing recycling processes for metal scrap more efficient. Among other things, laser-based analytical methods are being developed to determine the composition of the material flows used more precisely and thus further improve the recycling processes.
Further information on the REVaMP project:
Technology metals and rare-earth elements are important raw materials used in many electronic devices. Laser processes can be used to automatically and efficiently disassemble electronic assemblies into their individual parts at the end of their useful life. Valuable materials can be detected by laser while they are still installed and separated from the remaining materials and recyclables in a targeted manner, resulting in separate, highly concentrated sorting fractions for the individual materials. In this way, spent mobile phones and printed circuit boards, for example, can automatically and reliably be disassembled into their components, so that valuable raw materials can be recovered for recycling in new electronics.
Refractory materials are of great importance among technical minerals, as they are indispensable for all high-temperature processes. Sorting and recycling is made difficult by the fact that the material is mixed and contaminated after excavation and cannot be reliably detected and sorted by conventional methods. Fraunhofer ILT scientists have developed a method for automatic sorting based on analysis of the material using LIBS. The combination of laser ablation and LIBS allows local removal of near-surface impurities and identification of underlying refractories based on their chemical compositions.
LIBS can be used in the field of primary raw material extraction for the material analysis of mineral raw materials. By focusing the extraction and processing of raw materials on the recoverable rock, deposits can be mined more selectively and used for a longer period of time. In recycling, the use of laser technology makes it possible to save raw materials and energy and thus conserve natural resources.
Drill cores are obtained during geological exploration and must be examined in detail in order to identify rock formations and obtain indications of deposits of valuable raw materials. Today, drill core scanners with X-ray technology are already used for automated examinations, detecting heavy elements in particular. LIBS can measure nearly all chemical elements, including the light elements that are of great importance for assessing rock samples. A measurement system based on laser Raman spectroscopy can be used to identify chemical bonds and thus specifically detect individual minerals.
Combined measurement methods accelerate the analysis of drill cores and simplify the interpretation of their composition. The geological formations at the site of investigation can thus be examined more efficiently for the occurrence of valuable raw materials or for properties such as rock stability. At Fraunhofer ILT, corresponding measurement methods are being developed, which can also be used to construct compact sensor modules in particular.
The use of laser-based online measurement systems for chemical analysis in the extraction of mineral raw materials enables the creation of accurate deposit models. This can reduce the undesirable extraction of waste rock and achieve significant cost reductions. The harsh operating environments place high demands on the corresponding analysis modules in terms of vibration, dust and water resistance.
The rock dust produced during drilling or cutting can be extracted and chemically analyzed directly in the air stream by means of LIBS to determine, for example, the contents of magnesium, silicon, lead and aluminium in limestone. The results of the analysis can be used to optimize deposit models and the control of mining. The method is suitable, among other things, for use in raw material extraction and processing, e. g., in limestone quarries and cement plants, or for the extraction of copper or gold.