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Use of silica nanoparticles for transforming municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) fly ash into composite filler

Country of Origin: Singapore
Reference Number: TOSG20170609001
Publication Date: 9 June 2017


A Singapore educational and research institution has developed a practical, scalable, low energy-consumption and economically viable solution to process the municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) fly ash and integrated with the incineration site to minimise production costs. The institution is seeking license agreement or research cooperation agreement with industrial SMEs of all sizes or MNEs.


In order to convert MSWI fly ash into useful materials, the toxic heavy metals in the ash have to be removed or stabilised. The current technologies such as electrochemical, sintering and vitrification have many limitations, i.e. high cost, high-energy consumption and the generation of more waste. 

The technology developed by the institution features a practical, scalable, low energy-consumption and economically viable solution to process the MSWI fly ash in a way that binds and immobilises toxic heavy metals that are present in the ash. The process is based on the use of novel silica nanoparticles which have high surface areas and medium-sized pores. The process can be scaled up and integrated with the incineration site.

The process utilises a continuous stirred-tank reactor (CSTR) that is able to treat about 10 kg/day of municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) fly ash. The CSTR setup is scalable, has a small footprint and is integrated with water recycling process in the reactor to allow water reclamation for subsequent stabilisation reactions. In general, the CSTR system consists of four major systems:

(i) feed preparation;
(ii) a reactor made of borosilicate glass with temperature and pH control systems;
(iii) a salt recovery system which consists of evaporator-crystalliser, condenser and water recycling system, and;
(iv) two vacuum filtration systems for collection of stabilised incineration fly ash and salts, respectively.

The process utilises specialised silica nanoparticles and is expected to increase the entrapment efficiency of heavy metals by 20-30% as compared to competing processes which reduces the amount of silica needed. The treated fly ash is expected to comply with European Standards, EN12457-2 and NEN7375. The commercial viability of the system has been demonstrated by incorporating the treated fly ash into polymer-matrix composite products.

The institution seeks R&D and licensing partnerships with industry players (SMEs of all sizes or MNEs) with an interest to use this technology for product development.


Advantages and Innovations

This technology is able to integrate with waste-to-energy plants to utilise the MSWI fly ash generated directly for reuse. Companies producing composite materials would also be able to utilise this renewable material for their production for high-quality composites. These composites have a wide application in aerospace, automobile, marine, wind power, infrastructure and sports equipment. Thus, this technology will not only reduce disposal cost but instead generate revenue from waste.

- Offers a cost-effective process to produce higher value-added products from waste, which has a wide variety of applications
- Reduces the disposal cost
- Creates revenue from waste
- Utilises high surface area and tailor designed medium-sized of colloidal silica nanoparticles for better efficiency
- The chemical stabilisation process of solid waste is highly scalable

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Requested partner

The institution seeks to work with SMEs of all sizes or MNEs in a licensing or research cooperation agreement partnership.

The partner sought could be an industry player from the sectors such as, but not limited to manufacturing, materials, wastes management who is keen to explore the following types of partnerships:

i) Licensing agreement:
The partner can license the technology to further develop and commercialise it to offer to their customers.

ii) Research cooperation agreement:
The partner undertake joint R&D with the Singapore company to develop the technology further into new products that can cater to specific market needs or customer segments.

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