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Waste unique in the world  roads turn into electricity | Upload Recycling

Unique In The World: Roads Turn Into Electricity

by: Joyce Mahler
unique in the world  roads turn into electricity | Upload

In our modern world, there is one thing that we certainly do not lack. Asphalt, everywhere we look. Roads, highways, parking lots - it is everywhere. ‘Asphalt’ has become the synonymous term for everything grey, mass-built, enormous, and ominous at the same time. Now, there is one company looking to repair this somewhat damaged image of asphalt - by recycling old tar Asphalt and turning it into useful building materials, heat, and electricity.

Unique In The World: 100% Recycling

A 100% recycling process is unique in and of itself. Pretty much all recycling processes do leave some kind of waste behind. Not this one, as designed by the Dutch company Recycling Kombinatie REKO BV. Back in 2018, construction began on its second thermal cleaning installation (REKO II-plant) in the Rotterdam port area. This cleaning installation is slated to convert up to 1.2 million tonnes of residual materials, which is a mix of tar-bearing asphalt, and roofing felt. Instead, will be turned into primary resources, including sand, gravel, electricity, and heat.

people, red vests, installation
'The REKO crew'. To build a 'machine' this big you need courage, imagination, and the right decision taking!

REKO is a producer of sand, gravel, and fillers for mineral-based residuals (urban mining). Asphalt is its main resource and therefore invaluable in its value chain. This asphalt is largely sourced from road construction projects and can no longer be used due to its tar-holding contents, something that is forbidden in construction. It can, however, still be used for its mineral residuals. At the start of the 21st century, REKO BV worked hard on a brand new, highly innovative process, meant as a thermal cleaning of these mineral residuals. Eventually, this research project paid off and led to the very first thermal cleaning installation for Tar Asphalt, built back in 2006 (REKO I-plant).

Ever since this installation has had no problems converting up to 600,000 tonnes of mineral residuals per year. This means that over its lifetime, the installation has produced nearly 7,5 million tonnes of sand and gravel for the Dutch building industry.

Recommended: Waste: The Netherlands Creates New Material From Sewage

Burning Up Damaging Components

The process is fascinating. The asphalt is thermally cleaned in a rotating kiln, at temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius. This means that all the damaging organic components in the asphalt - including tar - fully burn up. Eventually, this thermal cleaning process leads to clean sand, gravel, and filler, ready for its second life in the construction industry. The other product of this process is the extremely hot waste gas, that allows for a re-capture of energy in the form of steam with the use of a steam boiler, that is subsequently converted to electricity in a steam turbine.

tube, interior, man red jacket, scaffolding
Inside the 'tube' - the rotating kiln - where the asphalt is thermally cleaned

Each year, the existing installation (REKO I) produces some 30,000 megawatts of electricity - the rough equivalent of the amount of power used by 7,500 households on an annual basis. A significant amount, but it could be even more efficient. This is what the new installation (REKO II) in the Port of Rotterdam is cut out to do. It uses more modern techniques, while also benefiting from the 12+ years of experience that REKO now gained in the field of thermal cleaning. Not only does it use less energy, but it also generates more: it can generate sufficient electricity to power at least 50,000 households for a year. A significant improvement over the previous version that is.

Recommended: Circular-Economy Gets Game-Changer Ioniqua: PET

Poster Child Of The Circular Economy

This processing technique is the poster child of the circular economy, where residual materials are fully converted, and the chain is genuinely closed. No waste of any kind, only clean sand and gravel and energy and heat. It merely takes the polluting tar-bearing asphalt and processes it in a way that all the polluting and dangerous components are destroyed. That is what REKO does and hopes to do for a much larger market. In the past, only the Netherlands explicitly ruled that tar-bearing asphalt could no longer be used in construction. By now, Belgium has followed, and the rest of Europe is not far behind. This development in the international market makes the new installation even more attractive.

crane, hook, people, red jacket, machine
Because of the size of the installation, combined with the large-scale reclaiming of the released energy, REKO can decrease the costs to it's customers 

According to David Heijkoop, director at REKO: “Because of the size of our installation, combined with the large-scale reclaiming of the released energy, we can decrease the costs to our customers. Combined with the very favorable location of REKO in the Port of Rotterdam, in a region where is a great lack of sand and gravel which is normally imported from Belgium and Germany – and the possibility that we can transport tar-bearing asphalt over water -, gives us an excellent starting point for the rest of Europe."

World’s Largest Recycling Factory

The new installation is set to become the world’s largest recycling factory for polluted building materials. And while you might correctly assume that the burning of the asphalt requires quite a bit of energy, the materials that burn - including the forbidden tar - release up to four or five times more power than that goes in. Plus, the new installation has the added feature of providing heat as well as electricity. This heat can be transported as hot water to the district heating in the surrounding area. A nice extra is that there is a choice between the amount of electricity and heat generated: meaning, if the city of Rotterdam requires more heat, REKO can deliver this. If it is not needed, for instance, during hot summer months, then it can all be converted into electricity. Once again, a genius move that many will benefit from.

people, red jackets, control room, monitors
To check the whole process of the world’s largest recycling factory you need a state to the art control room!

The installation does, therefore, not only serve the company by producing the sand, gravel, and filler that it sells but also the environment and the surrounding area—triple win. “REKO can produce about one and a half million tonnes of clean sand and gravel. This also means that a lot less sand and gravel has to be dug up, which means that the landscape will be impacted much less—finally, nothing of what REKO processes have to be disposed of. None of the harmful elements will end up in the environment—another good thing for the landscape and nature. Ships will no longer be transporting imported sand and gravel that has been dug up in other countries. Instead, they will bring tar-bearing asphalt that we will convert into clean sand and gravel, which can be put to good use in the Dutch construction industry. It is the circular economy.

If everything goes according to plan, the installation is set to become operational in a few months, by September 2020. Then it will start to turn old tar containing roads into new building materials, electricity, and heat - without any harmful emissions or residuals. Now that’s the kind of thinking that we need to save the world.

Before you go!

Recommended: Solar Panel Recycling: Photovoltaics Rebirth

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

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Unique In The World: Roads Turn Into Electricity

In our modern world, there is one thing that we certainly do not lack. Asphalt, everywhere we look. Roads, highways, parking lots - it is everywhere. ‘Asphalt’ has become the synonymous term for everything grey, mass-built, enormous, and ominous at the same time. Now, there is one company looking to repair this somewhat damaged image of asphalt - by recycling old tar Asphalt and turning it into useful building materials, heat, and electricity. Unique In The World:  100% Recycling A 100% recycling process is unique in and of itself. Pretty much all recycling processes do leave some kind of waste behind. Not this one, as designed by the Dutch company Recycling Kombinatie REKO BV. Back in 2018, construction began on its second thermal cleaning installation (REKO II-plant) in the Rotterdam port area. This cleaning installation is slated to convert up to 1.2 million tonnes of residual materials, which is a mix of tar-bearing asphalt, and roofing felt. Instead, will be turned into primary resources, including sand, gravel, electricity, and heat. 'The REKO crew'. To build a 'machine' this big you need courage, imagination, and the right decision taking! REKO is a producer of sand, gravel, and fillers for mineral-based residuals (urban mining). Asphalt is its main resource and therefore invaluable in its value chain. This asphalt is largely sourced from road construction projects and can no longer be used due to its tar-holding contents, something that is forbidden in construction. It can, however, still be used for its mineral residuals. At the start of the 21st century, REKO BV worked hard on a brand new, highly innovative process, meant as a thermal cleaning of these mineral residuals. Eventually, this research project paid off and led to the very first thermal cleaning installation for Tar Asphalt, built back in 2006 (REKO I-plant). Ever since this installation has had no problems converting up to 600,000 tonnes of mineral residuals per year. This means that over its lifetime, the installation has produced nearly 7,5 million tonnes of sand and gravel for the Dutch building industry. Recommended:  Waste: The Netherlands Creates New Material From Sewage Burning Up Damaging Components The process is fascinating. The asphalt is thermally cleaned in a rotating kiln, at temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius. This means that all the damaging organic components in the asphalt - including tar - fully burn up. Eventually, this thermal cleaning process leads to clean sand, gravel, and filler, ready for its second life in the construction industry. The other product of this process is the extremely hot waste gas, that allows for a re-capture of energy in the form of steam with the use of a steam boiler, that is subsequently converted to electricity in a steam turbine. Inside the 'tube' - the rotating kiln - where the asphalt is thermally cleaned Each year, the existing installation (REKO I) produces some 30,000 megawatts of electricity - the rough equivalent of the amount of power used by 7,500 households on an annual basis. A significant amount, but it could be even more efficient. This is what the new installation (REKO II) in the Port of Rotterdam is cut out to do. It uses more modern techniques, while also benefiting from the 12+ years of experience that REKO now gained in the field of thermal cleaning. Not only does it use less energy, but it also generates more: it can generate sufficient electricity to power at least 50,000 households for a year. A significant improvement over the previous version that is. Recommended:  Circular-Economy Gets Game-Changer Ioniqua: PET Poster Child Of The Circular Economy This processing technique is the poster child of the circular economy, where residual materials are fully converted, and the chain is genuinely closed. No waste of any kind, only clean sand and gravel and energy and heat. It merely takes the polluting tar-bearing asphalt and processes it in a way that all the polluting and dangerous components are destroyed. That is what REKO does and hopes to do for a much larger market. In the past, only the Netherlands explicitly ruled that tar-bearing asphalt could no longer be used in construction. By now, Belgium has followed, and the rest of Europe is not far behind. This development in the international market makes the new installation even more attractive. Because of the size of the installation, combined with the large-scale reclaiming of the released energy, REKO can decrease the costs to it's customers   According to David Heijkoop, director at REKO: “ Because of the size of our installation, combined with the large-scale reclaiming of the released energy, we can decrease the costs to our customers. Combined with the very favorable location of REKO in the Port of Rotterdam, in a region where is a great lack of sand and gravel which is normally imported from Belgium and Germany – and the possibility that we can transport tar-bearing asphalt over water -, gives us an excellent starting point for the rest of Europe ." World’s Largest Recycling Factory The new installation is set to become the world’s largest recycling factory for polluted building materials. And while you might correctly assume that the burning of the asphalt requires quite a bit of energy, the materials that burn - including the forbidden tar - release up to four or five times more power than that goes in. Plus, the new installation has the added feature of providing heat as well as electricity. This heat can be transported as hot water to the district heating in the surrounding area. A nice extra is that there is a choice between the amount of electricity and heat generated: meaning, if the city of Rotterdam requires more heat, REKO can deliver this. If it is not needed, for instance, during hot summer months, then it can all be converted into electricity. Once again, a genius move that many will benefit from. To check the whole process of the world’s largest recycling factory you need a state to the art control room! The installation does, therefore, not only serve the company by producing the sand, gravel, and filler that it sells but also the environment and the surrounding area—triple win. “ REKO can produce about one and a half million tonnes of clean sand and gravel. This also means that a lot less sand and gravel has to be dug up, which means that the landscape will be impacted much less—finally, nothing of what REKO processes have to be disposed of. None of the harmful elements will end up in the environment—another good thing for the landscape and nature. Ships will no longer be transporting imported sand and gravel that has been dug up in other countries. Instead, they will bring tar-bearing asphalt that we will convert into clean sand and gravel, which can be put to good use in the Dutch construction industry. It is the circular economy. ” If everything goes according to plan, the installation is set to become operational in a few months, by September 2020. Then it will start to turn old tar containing roads into new building materials, electricity, and heat - without any harmful emissions or residuals. Now that’s the kind of thinking that we need to save the world. Before you go! Recommended:  Solar Panel Recycling: Photovoltaics Rebirth Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about recycling? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage.'
Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations