The widespread use of asbestos in building materials and other applications up until the 1990s has created a severe problem for the European community in terms of adequately mitigating the asbestos risk, and there are a number of reasons for acting now. Firstly, the drive to remove asbestos-containing materials from public buildings is growing. The 1999 EU Landfill Directive with its mandatory treatment guidelines and additional pressures from insurance companies and building renters make asbestos removal a top priority on the European continent. Secondly, as recently as 2000, asbestos-based products comprised over 70% of the world market for building materials and the need to remove asbestos will rise as older buildings are replaced or revamped. Thirdly, the serious health effects of exposure to asbestos are and will continue to pose major challenges in the years to come. As many as 20,000 lung cancer cases, along with 10,000 mesothelioma cases are recorded in Europe each year. It is therefore imperative to address the asbestos problem at the root, by removing its toxic properties once and for all. The currently available technologies used to neutralize asbestos – arc plasma & vitrification – rely on processes which require very high energy input and as a result are expensive to exploit – 1500 to 3000€ per tonne. The alternative – developing dedicated hazardous waste cells for asbestos in designated landfills in accordance with the Landfill Directive likewise necessitates considerable financial outlays of approx. 200,000 - 500,000€. The system developed in this project will represent an affordable, energy-efficient device for destroying asbestos using microwave thermal treatment, a closed system which will bring to a minimum the emission of gases and vapours and which will create a by-product residue which can be safely used as an additive in building materials. The AsbestConvert system will also be designed and tested to accept a variety of other hazardous wastes.
Field of science
- /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/waste management/waste treatment processes
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeBSG-SME - Research for SMEs