Indaver is a supplier of high-quality materials and aims to expand this further. We continuously look for new and more efficient ways of recovering materials.
Thanks to the work of Indaver, in particular, recycling has become the norm for waste streams such as glass, paper and plastics. But we can only recover raw materials from hazardous waste if we have a guarantee that this can be done at no risk whatsoever to humans or the environment. Indaver has taken up this challenge!
We are constantly looking for new and better ways of recycling hazardous waste. In the past, the emphasis was on the neutralisation of hazardous waste by breaking down the molecules in chemical processes. We are studying the components of these waste streams that are sufficiently valuable to be recovered safely and efficiently.
Accordingly, we examine the smallest component parts, the molecules, to find out which can be recycled and put to good use, with no risk. Indaver’s regeneration of hydrochloric acid at Tata Steel, in Ijmuiden, is a good example of this. In addition, Indaver is already successfully recovering palladium, iodine and other quality materials from residues. We are also researching how we can recover sulphuric acid, fluorine, iodine and precious metals.
Given that our primary raw materials are diminishing and there is global pressure to reduce costs, our industry is reclaiming as many materials as possible from waste, from both the usual waste and additionally from complex industrial waste. Palladium is one of these rare natural raw materials - and consequently very expensive - which is used as a catalyst in pharmaceutical processes. In view of its rareness and high price, it is very beneficial for the industry to be able to recover this type of material.
Indaver set up Indaver Molecule Management in order to reclaim as many materials as possible from that complex industrial waste. They analyse the chemical and pharmaceutical waste down to the smallest detail, or to a molecular level.
Special innovative techniques now make it possible to isolate rare and valuable molecules such as hydrochloric acid, iron oxide, rare earth metals, iodine and palladium without compromising on the quality of the end product. The leftover waste, is then processed in accordance with the strictest safety standards. That means rare materials can be re-used within the industry. At that point the circular economy becomes a reality because in doing this we are actually closing the loop.
Iodine has many applications: as an anti-oxidant in chemical processes, as a catalyst in the production of pharmaceuticals or as a contrast medium in medicine. Iodine is certainly an essential raw material for producing acetic acid, nylon and the familiar iodine tablets. Because iodine is mainly found in Japan and Chile and therefor has to be exported to Europe, this raw material is very expensive.
Iodine recovery is thus an economically efficient solution for Europe’s major industries. It also increases Europe’s independence as far as buying primary raw materials from other continents is concerned.
As a major player in Europe’s waste industry, Indaver manages around 5 million tonnes of waste a year. In the summer of 2014, Indaver set up a pilot project, together with a number of clients who have some waste streams that contain iodine. The primary consideration in doing this was environmental feasibility and the quality of the end residue. In-depth laboratory analysis of a range of test results confirmed the pure quality of the recovered iodine. To guarantee sales of larger volumes of recovered iodine, Indaver is in discussion with a range of potential buyers.
Based on our experience in the pilot test during the iodine recovery project, Indaver intends to scale up similar recovery technology with the ultimate aim of a full-scale recovery plant at its site in Antwerp.
Indaver examines how residues could be used from thermal treatment using energy recovery (waste-to-energy). This concerns recovery of rare earth metals, phosphorus and copper. This eliminates the need for mining new raw materials and significantly limits the amount of residues that is dumped.