Why Urban Mining Has to Be Expedited
For many materials to be recovered urban mining still is in its infancy. But there are multiple reasons why urban mining has to be expedited. One of them is the environmentally responsible stewardship of available primary resources. But there is as well the necessity since in the production of metals where ore grades are declining or deposits are less available or have to be extracted at higher costs (e.g. underground mining). For other materials as lithium as used in lithium ion batteries the demand will increase drastically in the next decades and the demand cannot be met without controlled recycling procedures.
Many of these currently developed and future new processes to recover raw materials require new or more economic technologies. For an engineering and equipment supplier as Ekato this poses the challenge to come up with new solutions and developments. As discussed the development of new or adapted impeller types allow to run processes more efficiently from an investment and operation point of view. Here substantial power savings are possible with impeller types as the Combijet+. Not to be forgotten that reduced motor sizes for agitators additionally reduce the mechanical footprint of other plant components as well and therefore the overall investment costs.
Furthermore more reliable equipment and new materials of construction allow increasing the lifetime of components and therefore maintenance intervals. Some of the very promising materials are ceramic components which compared to metallic materials are much more resistant from an abrasion and corrosion point of view. Particular ceramics have the potential to boost the life time of impeller blades up to 10–20 times compared to the state-of-the-art technology.
New or optimized solutions and technologies are ideally developed in cooperation with licensors or end customers and a competent equipment manufacturer. Besides the many decades of experience in the entire process industry Ekato in its technology center offers the possibility to run tests with original materials or model tests to support its customers. Additional services as CFD and FEM analysis can be conducted in house by Ekato engineers.
* W. Keller is Senior Project Manager R&D, A. Rümmele is Project Manager R&D, and W. Last is Vice President R&D, all Ekato Rühr- und Mischtechnik, Schopfheim/Germany.