Research profile of the Department of Processing and Recycling

  Research profile

The Department of Processing and Recycling investigates research issues of waste management with a holistic approach. Three central aspects are relevant: material systems, single processes to complete process chains as well as their modeling and assessment. With this approach, we conduct thorough technical and economic studies for planning, organization and assessment in the field of secondary raw materials.

To implement this approach, the department possesses an extensively equipped technical laboratory. Experimental setups from laboratory to pilot plants scale allow us to carry out application-oriented research and development. Our staff is trained in aspects of engineering-science and practical considerations and commands broad experience in our field of research. This is essential for the successful implementation of innovative research projects at national and European level.


Material systems

Our understanding of materials and material systems is focused on anthropogenic sources that carry potentials of valuable material and are usually labeled as "waste". We have many years of experience in sampling and analysis of various material flows at various positions of process chains and especially in the mechanical processing. During the investigation and assessment of such systems, the genesis of material mixtures and their influence on the down-stream technical process chains are taken into account.

Our key competences are:

  • Anthropogenic sources of raw materials, such as
    • Biogenic waste (mass flows containing organic substances)
    • Glass
    • Metals
    • Paper, cardboard, cardboard boxes
    • Plastics
    • Residual waste
  • Determination of raw materials potential in mass flows from production, industry and households
  • Exploitation of resources which are currently unused or used insufficiently (e.g. fine grain)

Process chains

Process chains are examined in detail, both in their entirety as well as in their individual process steps. We have many years of experience in process design, the development of processing solutions and the evaluation of feasibility. Processing chains of secondary processing are considered in a holistic context, taking into account the origin and subsequent utilization. Individual process steps are evaluated considering material recovery, product quality and efficiency.

Our strengths are:

  • Access to extensive technical equipment for test campaigns: laboratory, technical laboratory, test rigs for sensor-based sorting
  • Holistic evaluation of processing tasks
  • Analyzing process chains of mechanical and sensor-optical treatment
  • Thorough comprehension of complex mechanical and biological processes
  • Controlling relevant parameters of sorting processes e.g. volume, qualitative composition per time unit

Modeling and assessment

modeling and assessment

At the Department of Processing and Recycling, the modeling and assessment of processes is performed by transferring empirically collected data into mathematical models. The evaluation of individual processing steps or entire process chains is conducted based on theoretical approaches with realistic efficiencies. For all calculations, models are created that comprise data on material and energy flows. These flows are identified for a specific process or taken from the department’s database. For this purpose, we have access to data of high temporal and spatial resolution. By analyzing efficiency, purity and recovery, the processes are evaluated with regard to technical and economic aspects.

Our potentials are:

  • Utilization of the department’s own, application-oriented database
  • Technical and economic analysis: mass flow balances, feasibility studies
  • Efficiency assessment of recycling processes: energy, resources, economy
  • Identification of benefits for process optimization (benchmarking)
  • Identification of possibilities of process control and monitoring
  • Life Cycle Assessment