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Future business models for the Efficient recovery of Natural and Industrial secondary resources in eXtended supply chains contexts

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FENIX (Future business models for the Efficient recovery of Natural and Industrial secondary resources in eXtended supply chains contexts)

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2021-04-30

The European Union faces several challenges caused by globalization. Both the delocalization of production plants (leading to more imported products) and the instability characterizing several industrial sectors force economies to re-think their business models and re-adapt them in a new context, where the sustainability of products and processes is more relevant. Within this overall framework, the need to think about innovative business models and industrial strategies, able to answer to these new requirements is mandatory. One chance is the exploitation of digital technologies.
Another is the exploitation of secondary (and critical) resources that, currently, are wasted without any recovery. The project FENIX wants to consider both these issues and their potential at the same time, proposing something that could allow Europe to re-appropriate its pertaining position in the global market. The idea is to study innovative business models and industrial strategies (based on the circular economy paradigm) enabling the development of new product-services through the definition of novel supply chains, resulting from an unconventional mix of current ones. This will allow the easy re-use, reconfiguration and modularization of production systems, the exploitation of overcapacity and the renaissance of industrial poles all over the Europe. Furthermore, the circular economy driven business models and industrial strategies proposed by project FENIX have been demonstrated in existing pilot plants, adequately reconfigured and integrated based circular economy needs.
In the first 18 months the consortium members have been active in the following activities:

In WP1 “New business models identification” best practices of new business models in other sectors have been analysed and conclusions drawn for the recycling of electronic components. Based upon these findings, adoptable business models supporting circular economy principles have been identified and further specified.

The focus of WP2 “New supply chains & pilot plants sustainability assessment” has been the assessment of the identified business models in terms of economy, environment and society.

The work package 3 “Pilot plants reconfiguration/implementation” (WP3) focused on the development of sustainable processes for the joined treatment of different e-wastes (printed circuit boards), including the simulation and testing of the selected assembly-disassembly processes, testing at lab-scale and the reconfiguration, testing and optimization at pilot-scale of the selected materials recovery processes as well as the testing at lab-scale and reconfiguration, testing and optimization at pilot-scale of the selected additive manufacturing processes.

WP4 “Digitalization of operational processes, smart sensors configuration and DSS implementation” has been taken into account industry 4.0 issues, such as the creation of a metamodel that will be used for the conceptualization of the DSS knowledge, the creation of knowledge instances based on deployed sensor infrastructure and the development of the DSS engine per se.

WP5 “Social media integration and consumers involvement strategies” investigated on how to enhance the participation of customers and end-users in the innovative processes of FENIX using involvement strategies, such as social media integration, incentives through tokens and gamification, market place platform connected to DSS, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

Industrial companies have been the test-bed for WP6 “Demonstration of new business models (Use case)” (WP6) of such developed strategies.

WP7 “Dissemination and Communication” organised the dissemination activities and WP8 “Exploitation” investigated the potential exploitation routes for the targeted results. The entire set of WPs have been managed in WP9 “Project Management”, in order to plan the required times and resources and to control the achievement of the expected results.

The FENIX processes have been tailored mainly to the needs and potentials of SMEs, but without excluding larger enterprises. FENIX focuses on closing “smaller”/regional material loops to secure the input materials for the European manufacturing sector.
The main results of FENIX are the development of new business models and industrial strategies for three novel supply chains in order to enable value-added product-services

1) A modular, multi-material and reconfigurable pilot plant producing 3D printing metal powders. This pilot plant allows the production of high-quality metal and CerMet powders to be used in the production of mechanical components through manufacturing processes like additive manufacturing (SLM, LMD) thermal spraying and sintering. The peculiarity of this use case is that the metallic material entering the manufacturing process will be recovered from different kinds of wastes coming from the mass electronics sector. These wastes, once disassembled to recover hazardous components, are reduced to powders. Subsequently, powders are separated in metal and non-metal ones. In this case, only some specific metals (e.g. Sn, Ni, Cu, Co and Al) present in powders are refined completely through bio-hydrometallurgical processes, processed by High Energy Ball Milling and optimized by classification and jet-mills to be used in industrial 3D printing, thermal spraying or sintering processes.

2) A modular, multi-material and reconfigurable pilot plant producing customized jewels. This pilot plant allows the production of customized jewels through additive manufacturing processes. The peculiarity of this use case is that precious metals entering the additive manufacturing process are recovered from different kinds of waste coming from the mass electronics sectors. These wastes, once disassembled to recover hazardous components, are reduced to powders. Subsequently, powders are separated in metal and non-metal ones. In this case, only precious metals (e.g. Au, Ag, Pt and Pd) present in powders are refined completely through bio-hydrometallurgical processes and directly used as basic material in dedicated 3D printing processes.

3) A modular, multi-material and reconfigurable pilot plant producing 3D printing advanced filaments. This pilot plant allows the production of advanced filaments through additive manufacturing processes. The peculiarity of this use case is that both metals (e.g. Cu and Al) and non-metal resins entering the additive manufacturing process are recovered from different kinds of waste coming from the mass electronics sectors. These wastes, once disassembled to recover hazardous components, are reduced to powders. Subsequently, powders are separated in metal and non-metal ones. In this case, only Cu, Al and a specific set of non-metal materials (e.g. ABS and epoxy resins) present in powders are refined completely through bio-hydrometallurgical processes and directly used as basic material in dedicated 3D printing processes.

All the three pilot plants share the same structure. A modular plant for the joined manufacturing/ demanufacturing of products/components, the sustainable recovery of materials and the reuse of powdered materials in several additive manufacturing applications is a completely new market niche, matching together several Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). FENIX allows the expansion of this market niche, by reaching other markets interested in exploiting its results.
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