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New recycling technique deals with paper sludge

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 10:13:40

Many people in the UK will recycle their paper and card, either at a local centre or by disposing of it with a collection organised by the council.

While recycling paper products is definitely environmentally friendly, it is not without its by-products. Chief amongst these is so-called paper sludge, which accumulates in annual amounts of around 25 million metric tons, when you consider the output of the whole of Europe.

Sludge can be tough to dispose of and always ends up creating a bit of a carbon footprint, but a new process called Controlled Thermal Conversion (CTC), is set to help clean up this sludge and make paper recycling even greener.

CTC has been created by Voith and it has already been put into action in a small number of paper mills in recent years, allowing its developers to put it through rigorous tests, to see just how sustainable it is.

It is basically possible to take the waste sludge created when recycling paper and then turn this into heat energy, that can be used to generate electricity, which in turn, can be pumped back into the mill, so helping to cut the carbon footprint of proceedings.

The sludge is basically combusted and while the heat generated can be converted into power, it also allows for the residual minerals contained within the material to be reclaimed, so that they too can be reused.

The minerals have various properties and can go on to be harnessed by construction material manufacturers and other businesses, which means that the maximum possible value is extracted from every single sheet of paper that is recycled.

CTC is likely to become more common across the EU, as paper mills adopt the technique in order to improve their overall efficiency.




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