RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Since the foundation of our company, we have been constantly investing in new technologies and processes for the economical recycling of scarce resources and the sustainable preservation of our way of life. Currently, we are involved in two research and development projects:

  • BEST4Hy – an international cooperative project on the recycling of fuel cells and
  • ReSi-Norm – a national consortium to improve the recycling of PV modules

BEST4HY H2020 PROJECT

The web kick-off meeting held on 19th-20th January 2021, launched the activities of the BEST4Hy project (SustainaBlE SoluTions FOR recycling of end-of-life Hydrogen technologies), funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking within the European Unions’ Horizon 2020 research programme.

As demand for hydrogen technology increases, ever more devices become in use and will eventually end up in the waste stream, requiring therefore to be handled in a sustainable manner. However, according to the findings of previous research initiatives, there are very few examples of viable and up-scaled technologies for the recovery and recycling of critical raw materials from fuel cells (FCs) and electrolysers.

BEST4Hy focuses on the development and validation of existing and novel recycling processes for two key fuel cell and hydrogen products: proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM FC) and solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). The project aims to adapt two existing recycling processes applied already to other technologies and to validate a novel dismantling process for PEMFC. Furthermore, a novel SOFC recycling technology will be proved. At the end of the processes, the materials will be validated in terms of quality and performance when re-used in new components and in new stacks, demonstrating the overall efficiency of recycling. Ambitious targets for recycled content in new stacks/cells have been set and will be validated by fuel cell producers, to prove the viability of higher value, closed loop recycling. Environmental impact and cost-benefits evaluations on the proposed technologies will be performed. This will support a more efficient use of raw materials, including critical resources, and it will contribute to improve the end-of-life treatment of the hydrogen technologies and to foster a circular economy approach within the sector.

BEST4Hy international consortium is composed by industrial partners and research institutes:

  • Environment Park SpA (Italy)
  • CEA Liten (France)
  • Turin Politecnico (Italy)
  • Hensel Recycling Gmbh (Germany)
  • Elringklinger AG (Germany)
  • Aktsiaselts Elcogen (Estonia)
  • RINA Consulting SpA (Italy)
  • University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)

 

“Hensel Recycling is proud member of the BEST4Hy consortium, an innovative EU financed research project to recycle fuel cells and save precious resources: we are delighted to be on board and contribute,” says Anna Marchisio, Business Development Manager at Hensel Recycling.

This project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 101007216. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research.

Fuel cells

ReSi-Norm

How can the recycling of PV panels be improved? Today, there are a variety of different processes and concepts for the recycling of worn-out PV panels, with various levels of efficiency. However, in order to be able to analyse these processes, there is a lack of standardisation and uniformity for PV panel recycling, in order to utilise their full recycling potential. The project “Standardisation and Uniformity of Recycling Processes for Silicon Solar Cells – ReSi Norm” has set this as its goal.

Both worldwide and within Germany, solar energy plays an important role in the mix of renewable energy. The International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA anticipates installed capacities of up to 2840 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030. According to a study by the Fraunhofer ISE, in Germany in 2020 a solar capacity of approximately 54 gigawatts was already in place – this is equivalent to two million systems. Although their service life is reasonably long and they can be used for up to 30 years, at some stage these systems will need to be disposed of and, ideally, recycled.

Based on the current state of research and operational uses, the ReSi Norm project partners aim to jointly set new standards for the recycling of PV modules by examining state of the art processes and research results. Particular attention will be paid to available results and findings from current national or European programs and development activities. Within the ReSi Norm project, the aim is to develop and implement a standardised process and guidelines for collection rates and realistic recycling quotas for the overall package of recyclable materials of a PV panel.

The group is made up of the following partners:

  • Fraunhofer-Einrichtung für Wertstoffkreisläufe und Ressourcenstrategie IWKS (Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies)
  • VDE Renewables GmbH
  • DKE Deutsche Kommission Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik in DIN und VDE (German Commission for Electrotechnical, Electronic and Information Technologies of DIN and VDE)
  • Hensel Recycling GmbH

PV modules