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Cost-Effective Recycling of CDW in High Added Value Energy Efficient Prefabricated Concrete Components for Massive Retrofitting of our Built Environment

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - VEEP (Cost-Effective Recycling of CDW in High Added Value Energy Efficient Prefabricated Concrete Components for Massive Retrofitting of our Built Environment)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2021-03-31

Growing interest in green buildings and circular economies is encouraging the consumption of high-grade secondary raw materials in the building sector. Recent studies on the characterization of diverse construction and demolition waste (CDW) samples at European level revealed that the predominant material constituent is concrete and that minor (e.g. glass) and emerging (e.g. mineral wool) CDW materials are revealing growing rates till 2030 supported by the European regulations on building energy efficiency and building retrofitting.
In this context the main objective of VEEP is to develop a series of technological solutions for the massive retrofitting of built environment, aiming at cost – effectively reducing building energy consumption. The closed loop approach is then assessed in different climate conditions in two Demo sites in Spain (Madrid) and The Netherlands (Hoorn).
In particular the project leads to higher resource efficiency in 2 novel multilayer Precast Concrete Elements (PCEs) through the combination of concrete and superinsulation material manufactured by using, at least, 75% (by weight) of C&DW recycled materials, as raw materials.
The ambition of the VEEP project relates to different aspects, both to the technological & new processes development and to new materials & products development enabling the realization of a virtuous circular economy loop in the building sector.
VEEP has created cost-effective advanced recycling technologies guaranteeing high quality and health-safety mineral resources for use in both new concrete and aerogel composites – to be embedded in novel PCEs – thereby fostering circular economy solutions for concrete and insulation materials.
During the course of the project R&D advancements related to the technological development for the production of aggregates and micro fibers and the development of novel materials and products. In particular in relation to technological development two Patents have been filed about concrete recycling and one has been already granted (i.e. (30.09.2019/PCT/NL2019/050653 IPN: WO 2020/071906 A1 and Priority date 3 Oct 2018). The following different technological advancement have been provided:
• Advanced Drying Recovery (ADR) redesigned for modular construction and efficient onsite transportability and light weight concrete recycling. An ADR facility with a capacity of 50 ton/h is assembled in Hoorn (the Netherlands) to fulfil the mobility requirements and requires one working day to dismantle/assemble it again.
• Innovative mobile Heating-Air classification System (HAS) Pilot Plant (3ton/hour) set up. The HAS technology has shown to improve quality properties of the ultrafine recycled particles in an important way for its application as an addition in new green cements. The integration of the ADR and the HAS would also help to commercialize recycled demolition aggregates at a competitive price.
• Ultra-fine wet grinding and health-safety refining technology. Evolved cost-effective ultra-fine wet grinding and refining technology have been developed for the production of recycled mineral fibers and particles for new concrete and new “green” aerogel manufacturing.

In relation to materials development:
• New green concrete formulations have been developed achieving more than 75% weight CDW aggregates incorporation. The new concretes manufactured with recycled C&DW materials presented @28 days values suitable for the precast concrete elements for structural applications. The new normal weight concrete recipes are also very innovative due to the low content in cement, getting replaced 5% by recycled admixtures coming from different recovered wastes.
• New cement formulations have been developed showing even better characteristics that the reference (with no CDW material). When ordinary Portland cement was in fact replaced or supplemented by the recycled admixtures, very satisfactory results were obtained showing increasing the overall resistance values with respect to the reference ordinary Portland cement (CEMII 42.5 R)
• New green aerogel using silica based CDW as precursor has been developed and blankets used for the sandwich panels production. Estimate on the Aerogel production cost is below 40% respect to the SoA

In relation to products and manufacturing development:
• New plastic formworks (much more lighter and easy to customize than conventional wood ones) have been produced. The innovative formworks allow the lead time reduction to 4 minutes per square meter, contributing to the achievement of the target +15% daily panels production
• New Precast concrete elements (PCEs) have been eco-designed and produced for both new and refurbished building applications for then installation purposes in project mock ups
• New connectors adopting 3D printing technology for manufacturing have been developed. The design of a new dismountable anchoring between the concrete layers of sandwich panel will allow to facilitate the reuse of concrete layers or their recycling. This new connector will also facilitate the separation of the insulation layer from the rest of the element.
The first CDW recycling era encompassed traditional crushing and screening technologies for use in low grade application as embankments and roads nevertheless in the future it is expected to grow the demand for high-grade secondary raw materials. In this sense VEEP project enables to provide new technological advancements covering the whole building life that can provide high quality secondary raw material suitable for new building products development. In particular the main exploitable innovation in VEEP relates to new cost-effective technological solutions/processes and novel cost-effective and “greener” materials/products that will trigger a number of impacts as:
• CO2 savings, energy savings, and higher resource efficiency. The VEEP (siliceous normal-weight) concrete formulation used in the load-bearing layers of the PCEs allows a reduction in CO2 emissions of 22.3% compared to conventional concrete formulation and concerning energy consumption, 29.4% less (primary) energy is consumed per m3 of concrete.
• Improving energy efficiency of the grinding/sorting processes, is recommended to reduce the environmental and economic impacts associated with the energy consumption.
• Creation of new value chains by expanding the size and attractiveness of C&DW recycling and reuse for energy efficient buildings construction and refurbishment, properly tackling non-technological barriers.
• Contribution to achieving the objectives of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials, in particular to the relevant impacts shown in Action I.5 "Recycling of raw materials from products, buildings and infrastructure" of the Strategic Implementation Plan;
• Contribution with viable technologies, with high replication potential, to significantly change practices of the construction industry towards circular economy practices;
• Improvement of innovation capacity of the construction sector to stimulate new growth and jobs creation.
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