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Development of novel processing for the production of low-cost by-product fillers as a replacement for high-cost primary fillers


Objectives and content
The objective of this industrial research project is to
develop low cost 'by-product' fillers as a replacement
for high cost "primary" fillers, in a range of industrial
products where neither the production specification nor
the end use demands a high-grade filler product. The
source of the 'by-product' fillers will be the mineral
residues of crushed rock aggregate quarries. The
residues from two major rock types (siliceous and
calcareous) will be assessed and will be upgraded by a
novel particle size-reduction process and by the
application of suitable beneficiation techniques.
Mineral fillers are used in a wide range of commodities
and are fine grained materials (<2mm) which are mined
specifically for that purpose ('primary' fillers) e.g.
kaolin and calcium carbonate. Primary sources are used
because applications such as communications paper and
household paints require a mineral, which has a high
brightness level and good rheological properties. Such
fillers are marketed at a relatively high cost, as the
total production costs, i.e. extraction and processing,
have to be recovered by the operator. However, many
applications such as packaging paper, marine paint,
plastics, membranes, ceramics, tires and electrical
cables, as well as a number of construction materials
such as asphalt, porous concrete and lightweight concrete
blocks do not require fillers of such a high grade. The
aim of this project is to develop 'by-product' mineral
fillers for these markets.
During the production of crushed rock aggregates large
volumes of mineral residue (10% to 25% of total output)
are generated, much of which is fine-grained and
generally creates problems to the environment. This
potentially valuable resource is substantially unused and
it is essential that optimum use is made of these
residues to meet sustainability criteria and improve the
profitability of quarry operations throughout the EU,
whilst creating added value products.
This project will concentrate on the production of lowcost 'by-product' fillers from these fine mineral
residues, as a cheaper alternative to the high-cost
primary' fillers. The products, which will be
investigated, are industrial paints, low-grade paper,
asphalt and lightweight concrete blocks. The project
includes 2 quarry operators (representing the two major
quarried rocks types - siliceous and calcareous), 3 end
users (industrial paint; packaging and toilet paper;
asphalt, and lightweight concrete blocks), 1 equipment
supplier (novel grinding equipment) and 3 research
organisations. Four of the industrial partners are SMEs.
Emphasis will be placed on the marketing aspects and a
marketing Consultant will be retained for the duration of
the project. The Tasks will be as follows:
Task 1 Field/Sampling Studies Task 3 Laboratory Scale
Tests Task 5 Product Development Task 7 Marketing
Study Task 9 Techno-economic EvaluationTask 2
Residue Evaluation Task 4 Large Scale Continuous Tests
Task 6 Evaluation of Products Task 8 Re-evaluation of
Quarry Practices
The economics are highly favourable and it has been
estimated that the production of around 400,000 tons per
annum of 'by-product' filler would generate ECU 32
million/annum for the quarry operators and provide a
saving of over ECU 10 million/annum for the user
industries. These are conservative figures as they
represent, within the EU, only 0.5% of the residues
produced each year and only a 2.7% replacement of the
'primary' filler market. The Producers will need to
increase the number of employees and the users should be
able to maintain employment at the present level.
The partners in this project would wish to participate in
the Thematic Network - "TRAWMAR".
The Brite-Euram m areas covered by the proposal are
1.3.2.L 1.3.3.M and 1.3.1.S.

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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6,City Square 1
United Kingdom

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Total cost
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Participants (7)