Ragn-Sells works systematically with innovations – both in order to improve daily operations as well as to find the waste management solutions of the future.
Waste is a valuable resource and is not the final destination for the consumption of goods and services. It is with that conviction that we work to develop, implement and improve circularity where waste becomes new resources that are continuously re-used – everything to avoid depleting Earth’s resources.
EasyMining is Ragn-Sells innovation company that works with developing processes that will turn waste into commercially valuable products, from lab tests to largescale. Over the years, EasyMining has been involved in developing several processes that are now patented. One of them is Ash2Salt, where commercial salts are recovered from fly ash. Another one is Ash2Phos where phosphorus is recovered. EasyMining works closely with several collaborative partners.
"EasyMining’s advanced technologies produces major opportunities in the transition to a circular economy"
Yariv Cohen, Research and Development Manager at EasyMining
Research, development and collaboration
We develop our resource-focused circular process in close cooperation with universities and colleges, foundations, together with our customers and other social actors. We actively look for and develop new collaborations through industrial symbiosis. Our facilities provide good opportunities to develop and test new methods and solutions in practice, making us an attractive partner for research and development.
With the vision to support the establishment of Ragn-Sells as a market leader and trusted partner regarding innovation and business adaptation for recycling, detox, and new value chains, Ragn-Sells established a Research and Development (R&D) committee in 2019. The mission of the committee is to drive the development of new products, processes and services in an effective and sustainable manner. Development can be done in several ways – anything from buying companies to appointing a PhD candidate to a certain research mission. Representatives from our business areas and the Group CIO forms the committee and has the overall responsibility to function as the harbour for strategic larger long term group projects, act as a gate for public funded projects where Ragn-Sells is involved and gather and distribute knowledge and skills to experts in separate fields within the Group. By combining our resources within the Group we will enable capability for managing larger projects than what each unit by itself could manage.
This year has been a successful year in terms of innovations. During 2019, Ragn Sells R&D committee processed more than 30 ideas and currently Ragn-Sells has seven large ongoing projects relating to innovation. A slight increase compared to last year, when corresponding numbers were 24 and five.
OUR RESEARCH PROJECTS AND PATENTED PROCESSES
RE-Fertilize - An important breakthrough for circular nitrogen recovery
The objective of Ragn-Sells and EasyMinings’ project RE-Fertilize is to develop a patented circular method for recovering nitrogen from sewage water and allowing it to be used again as agricultural fertilizer.
Every time we use the toilet, nitrogen is created as a result. Today, wastewater treatment plants remove the nitrogen from the sewage water using bacteria. By using this technique, the nitrogen simply goes right back into the atmosphere. In order to produce new nitrogen, which one of the key nutrients in commercial fertilizers, an energy-intensive method has to be applied. As such, the water and wastewater sector have for a long time sought to find solutions for recovering nitrogen from wastewater.
In 2019, Ragn-Sells’ was granted 1.8 million euros from the EU's LIFE innovation funding program, allowing us to develop the method and eventually offer it to Swedish wastewater treatment plants. Our new method allows the nitrogen to be recovered directly at the plant which would generate both large energy savings and a substantial reduction of emissions, such as the powerful greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O).
The Ash2Salt process is based on two preceding steps: a first stage of ash washing and metal cleaning and a second stage of separation of dissolved salts in the wash solution.
Fly ash is washed with water in the first step, removing washed ash (residual sand), leachate containing salt and a small amount of metals. Metals are removed with sulphides from the leachate, with the liquid with the dissolved salts subsequently continuing for salt separation. Step two entails a salt separation process and production of commercial salts, CaCl2 (solution), NaCl and KCl takes place in an energy efficient process step. In addition, purified water from the salt separation process is recirculated to the first step.
The Ash2Phos process is a wet chemical process which recovers clean commercial phosphorus products.
In addition to phosphorus, the Ash2Phos process can recover precipitation chemicals and remove heavy metals. Ash2Phos thus reduces the need for virgin resources. The process consists of several successive chemical reactions undertaken at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. The mass balance of the process is favourable, with all input chemicals becoming part of the products. The Ash2Phos process consists of three steps: an initial acid step, a secondary basic step where intermediate products are produced and finally a conversion step where intermediates are processed into final products.