- We interviewed Ignacio Sanz Madroño, Head of Thermal Processes of the leading environmental management company, and a member of the Advisory Board of the European project
URBASER is one of the world’s leading companies in environmental management. The company specialises in the design, financing, construction, commissioning, and maintenance of treatment and recycling facilities, mechanical and biological treatment (including anaerobic digestion and composting), energy recovery, transfer stations, and municipal and industrial waste disposal facilities.
Waste treatment is one of the core themes in circular economy. RESLAG’s main purpose is to effectively add value to steel mill slag and reuse it as a raw material in 4 innovative applications, a vision that is fully compatible with the search for this circular economy within the steel sector.
QUESTION. What is your assessment of the project? What aspects of it would you highlight most?
ANSWER. My view is that this project is necessary to progress on the use of wastes / residues that could be used in value added applications. Under normal conditions, this kind of residues will be disposed off in a landfill and the cost will be added to the final product, so, if we want to move to a circular economy, this project is one of the first steps. I would highlight the use as heat storage because its application in many sector.
Q. What exactly is your role as member of the Advisory Board in the RESLAG Project?
A. Share with the partners of the project a different view on it, a view from waste treatment market.
As a company with long experience on waste management, we have faced challenges to re-introduce residues in the raw materials market.
Despite the different properties of steel slag and waste valorization slag (IBA as it is commonly known), there could be some common uses, particularly the extraction of high added value metals and feedstock for refractory ceramics industry.
Regarding the use of the slag as heat storage material for waste heat recovery, rather than using IBA as a feedstock, we could apply this technique to improve the energy efficiency of the waste valorization like anaerobic digestion or incineration.
Q. 19 partners from 8 different countries are involved in this project, including universities, top-level private enterprises and research centres. Is the vision of all the realities essential to research results?
A. In this case, I would say yes because the applications of slag are quite new so initial lab work and assessment is needed therefore universities and research centres have to play a role on it.
The involvement of the industry, both producers of slag and end users of the new products, is necessary. The reasons for this are obvious in the first case and, in my opinion, the view of the end user is convenient when it is not a standard to meet or the use is disruptive.
Q. What is your opinion of the European policies outlined in recent years that have set the reduction of energy consumption and of waste generation in industrial processes as a strategic objective?
A. Those objectives are always on any manufacturing process, the goal is to make them a reality, nonetheless, waste generation and energy consumption cannot be prevented so energy efficiency and waste reuse / recycle should be the real goals.