Greaves, the lead proposer, have carried out trials using a small pilot furnace which has demonstrated that a lightweight aggregate can be produced from the thermal expansion of slate waste. There is a wide commercial market for the product throughout Europe in both the horticultural and building block manufacturing markets if it can be produced at an economic cost. Further research is necessary to minimise production costs and to develop the application for specific products. The research programme will be divided into five work packages - development of a thermally efficient furnace - characterisation of the physical and chemical properties of the new material - characterisation of the horticultural capabilities of the new material - development of advanced building blocks and roofing tiles using the new material - investigation of use of the new material in rehabilitating slate quarry waste tips The slate industry is characterised by the large quantities of waste which it produces. The pilot research has shown that slate waste from different deposits reacts differently to the heating process. It is therefore an important part of the research programme to establish that the technology developed has wide application to meet these differing characteristics of deposits across Europe. The Partners represent interests in each aspect of the research programme. Two are long established slate producing companies who handle large quantities of waste material. Their key interest is to find an economic use for that waste instead of causing a large disposal cost to their industry. If the project is successful they will create many new jobs in rural areas of high unemployment and safeguard their futures. Two partners have horticultural interests based in slate producing areas in northern and southern Europe. The different climatic conditions and their need to find alternative growing mediums to reduce the use of peat make them ideal for carrying out horticultural trials of the product. Building product trials would be undertaken by one of the slate producing partners, who are developing tiles from slate dust and resin, and an Irish building product manufacturer, wants to introduce a new lightweight building block into the Irish market. Each partner therefore has a direct interest in the success of the research and is prepared to commit their time to ensure success. The RTD programme would be led by E A Technology, a research organisation of international reputation who have pioneered the use of microwave-assisted gas firing technology into furnace designs. They would develop that technology to meet the specific needs for expanding slate. Cynefin Environmental, the other research provider, have an established reputation in ecological innovation and project management and would be responsible for the physical and chemical characterisation of the lightweight material, for carrying out trials of the material for waste tip rehabilitation and for project coordination. It is estimated that quantities of the expanded slate material marketed across Europe could be in excess of 4 million tonnes/year.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
LL57 2DW Bangor (Gwynedd)
LL55 1TU Caernarfon
06192 Villar Del Rey - Badojoz
6195 Balboa - Badajoz