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ARC Discovery funding has been instrumental in helping to advance the thermal isolation and selective synthesis innovations developed at the SMaRT Centre.

The program has been establishing a novel pathway for transforming complex automotive shredder residue (ASR) into valuable products and resources by leveraging high temperature reactions. The team has been thermally isolating useful carbons and silica from within automotive shredder residue (ASR) in situ to produce activated carbon products and silica layers, thereby able to completely recycle this bulk toxic waste into high value materials for remanufacturing as feedstock.

Program 1: Fundamental investigation of thermal micronising of waste plastics, wood, and glass from ASR across a range of high temperatures.

  • Program 1a: Microrecycling of the waste wood and plastics of ASR to generate activated carbon.
  • Program 1b: Thermal reduction and isolation of ASR for the value added nanoceramics, metal alloys, and compound.  

Program 2: Fundamental and applied studies of SiO2 reduction for ASR samples for the formation of the layered structure.

Program 3: Fundamental and applied studies of using ASR waste plastics and glass in green building materials.

Program 4: Investigations into microstructural, chemical, physical, and mechanical properties of the products manufactured in the laboratory scale.

SMaRT's novel ‘thermal micronising’ technique has been implemented to generate the carbon from the ASR samples. The carbon properties have been further investigated across temperatures and it has been revealed that certain temperatures increase the graphitisation of the carbon. And by tuning the properties of the carbon with the help of different thermal activation techniques, activated carbons with a very high surface area can be generated.   

ARC Discovery image

Mesomicroporous activated carbon from ASR.

Such innovative new pathways for separating valuable carbons from complex and toxic wastes offer promise to provide industry an alternative, low cost and sustainable source of raw materials from waste, while simultaneously reducing pressures on landfills and finite natural resources.

These high surface areas containing activated carbon materials could be used as the electrode materials for supercapacitors, for instance. The carbons for energy storage applications are often derived from non-renewable resources under harsh environments.

Characterisation of the glass fraction of ASR also shows promise. Researchers have been able to generate the ferrosilicon alloy using the ASR glass. This project aims to produce glass foams or other materials using the waste glass, plastics, and textiles from the problematic waste source of the end of life vehicles for civil and for infrastructure applications which has a huge industrial and environmental benefit.