Scientists from SINTEF and Norsk Elektro Optikk are working with partners across Europe on a new sorting technology. The researchers are developing a sensor-based system for recycling refractories, with the aim of significantly reducing Europe’s carbon emissions. And the potential is there, as this technology could reduce CO2-emissions by as much as 800,000 tonnes. “Different types of optical detection technologies can be used to sort components in refractories,” SINTEF explains in a press release.

Extractive industries, including the production of refractories, account for a significant proportion of global carbon emissions and have a major impact on biodiversity loss. Establishing a circular economy and developing an efficient recycling process for this industry is essential to reduce CO2-emissions in Europe and preserve natural resources.

One unit with multiple sensors

The biggest challenge in recycling refractories is accurately sorting the different materials used, which consist of a mixture of different chemical components. Being able to segregate the components and sort them into different quality groups is crucial for the quality of future products.

SINTEF is working on a solution by realising a multisensor sorting unit. Different types of optical sensing technologies can be used to sort components in refractories. In this case, the unit combines laser-induced pass-through spectroscopy (LIBS) and hyperspectral imaging, allowing element and material classification.

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