CORDIS - EU research results

A purification/regeneration process of spent plating baths base on functionalized magnetic nanoparticles.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PureNano (A purification/regeneration process of spent plating baths base on functionalized magnetic nanoparticles.)

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2022-11-30

Surface finishing treatment bears a significant process applied in many industrial sectors with the view to extend the life of metallic components providing surface properties and functionalities via the application of coatings using electro and electroless plating baths. However, this continuous replenishment of chemical compounds leads to accumulation of by-products and decomposition product that burden the bath from its proper operation. Every year a total amount of 300.000 tons of hazardous waste is produced (an average of 16 tons per installation).

PureNano proposes a novel method for an in-situ purification/regeneration process of plating baths from contaminants and undesirable chemical species hindering the operation of the bath. PureNano proposes an innovative, low cost, sustainable method for purification of plating baths which will lead to a significant extension of their life having, as a result, the decrease of operation expenditures of plating shops, the decrease of environmental risks from the transportation of spent baths and the increase of process efficiency and products quality. It is based on the timely treatment of plating baths with functionalized magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs), that can absorb in their surface the contaminants and chemical species that are accumulated.

PureNano project has developed innovative technologies leading to significant economic and environmental benefits to electroplating and electroless plaiting processes in the surface treatment industry:
a. Extension of the lifetime of plating baths by in-situ treatment;
b. Reduction of hazardous wastes from plating industry;
c. Easy adoption of the purification system in the plating lines;
d. Fast and highly efficient purification process;
e. Boosting the Circular Economy Action Plan;
f. Strengthening the competitiveness of EU surface finishing industry.
The key results of the project can be summarized below:
- Development of a one stage phase (formation with simultaneous functionalization) of MNPs and characterization of the MNPs produced;
- Study of specific functionalization routes of MNPs using bio-degradable biopolymers (chitosan, cellulose, starch, lignin);
- Design of the purification plant and development of engineering documentation (conceptual, basic, detailed engineering) for the efficient purification of the plating baths utilizing the MNPs. Preliminary experiments for safe disposal/recycling of the used MNPs;
- Health & Safety hazard analysis, activities for a circular business model, standards identification, definition and organization of training activities, LCA and LCC analysis, exploitation and dissemination activities.

Exploitation, dissemination, and communication activities of PureNano followed the development strategy, which was updated during the project and helped the partners to reach a wide audience and at the same time provided the instruments to approach the market.
The implementation of this strategy had the following specific objectives, which were succesfully implemented:
1. Disseminating the project results to targeted meetings, workshops and conferences, and marketing tools to engage stakeholders;
2. Development of a proper plan for the communication, dissemination, exploitation and protection of the knowledge, technologies and products developed within the project;
3. Perform a market analysis including the relevant segments and monitor the competitive landscape;
4. Demonstrate the potential of PureNano solution in creating industry business opportunities.
PureNano’s objectives were in accordance with the topic SC5-01-2018, targeted in the fast and low-cost purification of spent plating baths, promoting aspects of circular economy and reuse of secondary raw materials, as plating solutions, and metal ions.
The activities undertaken in the first reporting period aim to develop a fast and low-cost method for purification of spent plating baths, that includes the in-house reuse of plating baths as well as of secondary raw materials (ex. SiC NPs from CNano PL).
During the second and last reporting period, MNPs formulation, finalization of the purification system and optimization of demonstrators’ process conditions, have been successfully implemented. This report reflects the key developments during the last 24 months of the project towards the project goals, as described in the Grant Agreement.

The project promoted these were aspects of circular economy. The use of MNP aggregates for bath purification as well as the design of the purification system, foresee a decrease in use of hazardous chemicals for the purification of the plating baths minimizing thus health and safety risks. Additionally, the materials taken into consideration for MNPs functionalization included biopolymers such as cellulose, lignin and starch which are often by products of industrial processes and such activities contribute even further to the principals of circular economy and sustainability. Additionally, the preliminary results from the three routes under investigation for the reuse and disposal of used MNPs, were prooved promising and could contribute as well to the principles of circular economy.

PureNano results presented to the European industry a novel recycling/purification technology that could offer significant benefits for the plating industry and address the EU’s sustainable objectives. The development of this new technology created new knowledge on nanomaterials and on the ways to effectively use them in markets related to waste water treatment such as the plating industry. Alos the performed activities during the implementation of PureNano presented the technology to new markets and for sure will increase the competitiveness of the industries that will adopt the technology which will also create new job opportunities for highly skilled directly or indirectly involved in the industrial application of the technology.

Finally, the one step production method for MNPs as well as the simple design of the purification system and its potential use in other waste water treatment industries apart from the plating industry, will increase competitiveness and growth of companies adopting the technology. Demonstration activities as well and the MNPs reuse methods in implemeted in PureNano project, could be an opportunity for strengthening the competitiveness of the European industry, moving decisively towards a prosperous and sustainable economy.
PureNano concept