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Mineral wool waste back to loop with advanced sorting, pre-treatment, and alkali activation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WOOL2LOOP (Mineral wool waste back to loop with advanced sorting, pre-treatment, and alkali activation)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2020-11-30

Mineral wool (glass wool and stone wool) is common, efficient insulation material for buildings, vehicles and industry. Still significant amount of mineral wool waste is formed during construction and demolition of buildings adding annually up to 2.5 Mt of waste in the EU alone. At the moment, the majority of this material ends up landfilled without further utilization even though mineral materials represent remarkable potential for recovery and circular economy. Landfilling mineral wool has economic, environmental and societal impacts even though it is not hazardous as material itself.

The WOOL2LOOP project aims at closing the material loops of mineral wool at the end of its lifecycle by introducing novel geopolymer technology and value chain to construction and demolition waste sorting, analysis, pre-treatment, processing, novel products development, market introduction and commercialization. As geopolymer raw material mineral wools have been found to work as excellent raw materials as ashes, slags and clays - and as being standardized construction products - being uniform by the composition. Geopolymers exist since few thousands of years, just thinking about volcanic ashes that were used as raw material in ancient concrete in for example Colosseum, Pantheon and pyramids in Egypt.

WOOL2LOOP project aims to introduce novel raw material, mineral wool based geopolymer aiming to replace Portland cement (OPC) in various proportions in cementitious construction materials and products. Cement and concrete industry is pointed out with a finger as "as a bad" due to their heavy carbon footprint - 5-8% share of global CO2 emissions. Blaming cement and concrete industry may be misleading, concrete - having cement as a binder - is the most used construction material in the world in absolute. Still we need to repair and build in a massive amount in coming decades, so all existing building materials are needed, but all the opportunities to develop novel construction materials and their components are the utmost importance. Geopolymers are viable option for the whole cement and concrete industry to swift to next level in reducing carbon footprint of built environment. Different studies illustrate even 80% lower carbon emissions for geopolymers in comparison with OPC.

WOOL2LOOP aims also to progress approval and standardization of novel construction materials and their main components. Also progressing circularity of material streams traditionally claimed as "waste only", there is a need and future market for "wasterials".

Built environment is built for the people. No sub-optimizing can take place in progressing low carbon, carbon neutral, circular and resource efficient built environment. People health and well-being comes first. Multiple criteria need to be considered e.g. economic viability, safety, health, longevity, aesthetics and so on.
WOOL2LOOP project has progressed as planned. Different samples of mineral wool from various sources (CDW, process waste) have been analysed by impurities or chemical composition. Different trials with milling or grinding the fluffy mineral wools into required "fibre sand" has taken place and lot has been learned. Requirements for product demonstrations have been collected. Many mix designs e.g. product formulas have been developed for industrial partners use. Now we are in the phase of starting bigger scale industrial pilots.

A number of communication, dissemination and clustering activities have taken place.

On-going with all the activities above, all the measures for environmental and human safety have been applied.
Geopolymers are studied widely, WOOL2LOOP being the unique with completely new raw material to be used, glass wool and stone wool. WOOL2LOOP is on good track and markets for novel construction materials are formed as well as the willingness to harness local approval and standardization procedures. This goes along with different nations' carbon neutrality and circularity ambitions.

New business needs to be developed around circular economy, WOOL2LOOP addresses the needs to turn from linear to circular, what comes to waste handling and industries in general.
WOOL2LOOP Wprk Package 1 activities
WOOL2LOOP Work Package 2 activities
WOOL2LOOP Consortium logotypes
WOOL2LOOP Project meetings