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“Zero Waste” at Knauf AMF – binder recovery saves 4000 tonnes of CO2

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19 Feb 2019

Knauf AMF develops a worldwide unique process for the recovery of binding agents from wood wool tiles and wins the waste management award "Phönix 2018" from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism.

“Zero Waste” at Knauf AMF – binder recovery saves 4000 tonnes of CO2

At the Ferndorf production location (Austria), Knauf AMF is intensifying the zero-waste process with the new binder recovery machine (recalcination) and the consequent systematic introduction of cycle production. 4000 tonnes of production residue from wood wool tile production are now returned to the production process each year. All in all, this saves around 4000 tonnes of CO2 and at the same time supports the energy supply.

The starting point for Plant Manager Harald Oberscheider and his team was to burn the wood of the tile remnants and to reuse the residues - the remaining binder, magnesite. First, a piece of tile was burned in a muffle furnace at low temperature in our own laboratory. "We found that the residues were reactive and basically suitable as binders," says Harald Oberscheider. The inverse principle of the manufacturing process, in which magnesite (kauster) is added to the wood wool mass as a binder, basically worked. This was followed by further tests and experiments in cooperation with the Montan University Leoben and the Knauf plant Niederaussem in Bergheim-Auenheim (NRW).

No measurable quality difference

In the large-scale trials, around one tonne of binder (magnesium oxide MgO and magnesium sulphate MgSO4) was recovered and returned to the production process as Knauf Secondary Causation (KSK). Thus, around 100 m² of HERADESIGN® tiles were produced using the recycled binder. The evaluation of the quality tests showed, as in the very first analysis, that the tiles with the secondary causation (KSK) had the same high quality as those from standard production.
In September 2017, the rotary kiln modified for the process was installed in Ferndorf. "After heating up to around 500°C with natural gas, the tile material to be recycled is added, after which the system heats itself, as it were. The heat required to maintain the process is provided solely by the wood contained in the recycling material and its energy content is returned to the process by a heat exchanger, "explains Michael Pehr, who, as a Technical Project Manager, was responsible for the complete planning and implementation on site.

4000 tonnes less CO2

Since March 2018, the world's first recalcination plant of this type has been in operation, with full operation scheduled to commence in July of this year. Harald Oberscheider: "For HERADESIGN® production, we need several thousand tonnes of magnesite per year, 40 percent of which we will now produce ourselves with the new plant."
Overall, Knauf AMF not only reduces its own costs for buying in binders with the new recalcination plant, but also makes a significant contribution to climate protection. The (energy-intensive) production of one tonne of magnesite produces one tonne of CO2. That means a saving of 4000 tonnes of CO2 per year. In addition, avoiding material transport from the production site to landfill, results in over 600 fewer lorries per year.

First place at the Phönix Awards 2018

The fact that this new process for binder recovery is something special was recently demonstrated by Knauf AMF being awarded the "Phönix 2018" waste management award. The Phoenix is an initiative from the Austrian Water and Waste Management Association (ÖWAV) and the Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism. It was awarded on April 17th, 2018 in Salzburg for the 15th time, with Knauf AMF achieving first place. This award recognises practical and/or innovative or creative solutions and concepts relevant to waste management, which contribute to resource conservation and sustainable development of waste management.

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