Consider recycling when designing your refrigerator

Magdalena Heibeck from ILK at TU Dresden and HIF in Freiberg presented her dissertation project on recycling of composite materials at DGAW Congress 2022 in Dresden. Photo: ILK / TUD and HIF

Award to Dresden Lightweight Construction Researcher Magdalena Heibeck

Dresden / Freiberg, 21 April 2022. In car construction and aerospace, composite materials are considered to be particularly light and therefore promising materials – be it fiberglass, carbon, wood or other material compounds. However, it is often very difficult to reuse them when a car or a plane has expired, because these composite materials must then be separated again as automatically as possible. TU Dresden is therefore researching ways to take later recycling into account when designing these materials.

ILK junior researcher Magdalena Heibeck has now received a science award from the “German Society for Waste Management” (DGAW) for her doctoral project “Recyclability of multi-material structures: numerical modeling of digestion comminution”. It is the result of a statement from the TU Institute for Lightweight Construction and Plastic Technology (ILK), which supervises this doctoral dissertation together with the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) and the Dresden Center for Intelligent Materials (DCIM).

Combination of experiments and simulations

Heibeck bases his doctoral degree on experiments and simulations with the finite element method, for example to be able to predict how a composite material can later be shredded in the shredding machine. “In the future, this simulation should enable a study of different design variants and their behavior in the comminution process,” said ILK. With this, the young scientist will “make a contribution to recyclable product development”.

This system sucks the coolant out of the old refrigerators. Photo: This system sucks the coolant out of the old refrigerators. Photo: HZDR / HIF

Recycle raw materials for 25 million euros a year through the right design concept

Magdalena Heibeck is involved in the project “Circular by Design” (CbD). The goal of this project under HIF management is a “resource turnaround” that researchers want to practice through sustainable product design using the case study of a refrigerator. They aim for a design concept that can be transferred to other consumer goods. “If you look at the share of steel, copper and aluminum, these together make up almost 60 percent of the weight share in refrigerators and freezers that need to be recycled,” the project overview states. “In addition, there is plastic with a weight share of about 35 percent. This equates to a material value of secondary raw materials of around 25 million euros per year, just for the tonnage of units produced by a refrigerator manufacturer. “

The researchers and their helpers shredded 100 refrigerators as a test. Photo: HZDR / HIF

100 refrigerators shredded

“We selected 100 large refrigerators / freezers of different ages for the test,” Magdalena Heibeck reported in a contribution to the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf and the Materials Research Association Dresden (MFD). “The old units were first characterized, then recyclable and disruptive materials were removed for recycling, such as visible circuit boards, cables and glass shelves, refrigerants and compressors. The removed cooling units were then shredded and separated in the mechanical system. ” Based on the data obtained, the project partners want to “draw conclusions for the product design and derive recommendations for action to the refrigeration unit manufacturers”.

Author: hw

Sources: ILK-TUD, Dechema, MFD, Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf

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