Phosphorus from municipal waste: the new frontier of the circular economy

Phosphorus from municipal waste: the new frontier of the circular economy

The transition to a new circular economy passes through phosphorus. The objective of the FlashPhos project, co-financed by the EU, is precisely to transform urban and industrial waste into a resource by obtaining this precious substance from waste materials, necessary for hundreds of applications of daily use. In two days held on 10 and 11 May in Spoleto, the companies and institutions of the academic world that are part of the project examined the progress of the working tables and visited the plant of the Italmatch Chemicals Group, leader of the Consortium and historic pillar of the Italian chemical industry. “Italmatch occupies a leading position in the FlashPhos project as regards the technologies for the production of phosphorus and its diffusion on the market,” said Sergio Iorio, President and CEO of the Group. “We are proud to be part of this consortium, given the strong attention that our company is dedicating to sustainability and the circular economy, through innovation and research, as demonstrated by the recent results obtained by the Group in the chemical products used for example in batteries for electric cars or for alternative energies”.

In detail, the project aims to apply a thermochemical process on a large scale to sustainably produce high-quality phosphorus and other valuable raw materials starting from sewage sludge. All following a virtuous and sustainable approach, with all output materials used in European industry, some of which replace critical or relevant CO2 raw materials. “The project will bring benefits to the environment and society thanks to its circular approach, as well as to EU industry thanks to innovations in the fields of chemical and production engineering, thermal process engineering and cement technology,” said Matthias Rapf, coordinator of the FlashPhos project and researcher at the University of Stuttgart.

The first plant in Europe has already been planned and is expected by 2025, together with the start of industrial-scale production of phosphorus, while the introduction on the market will take place by 2028.

The FlashPhos consortium, coordinated by the University of Stuttgart, boasts a multidisciplinary European team composed of large industrial companies, SMEs, NGOs and academic institutions. The 17 partners – from Austria, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain – cover the full range of expertise in waste management, design and operation of thermo-chemical plants, as well as the production of cement and phosphorus, essential materials for the optimal execution of the project.

 Sergio Iorio, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Group

Sergio Iorio, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Group

FlashPhos fits into a broader ESG strategy by Italmatch, which has always been oriented towards sustainable development, technological leadership and innovation. Precisely with a view to a greener future, the Group published its first sustainability report in 2022 and continues its always active participation not only in European Union projects but also in research and development initiatives on green supply chains. Worth mentioning is the European Battery Innovation, for the sustainable development of the value chain of electric car batteries in the EU, and the creation of Magpie, a startup that has developed a new selective filter technology to recover the precious metals that are usually lost during the treatment.

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