We deal with the characterization of heterogeneous materials which are generated from anthropogenic processes within the framework of waste management. We focus on the residual materials from waste incineration such as fly ash, slag and materials generated from mono-incineration as well as fractions from construction waste. In order to reliably investigate and characterize these materials, elaborate sampling procedures (often far away from established standards) as well as sample preparations are carried out or developed. The aim of these efforts is to describe the material flows of waste management processes as well as to provide the other research groups with reliable analytical foundations for their research.
We analyze operational and regional substance flow systems in order to optimally utilize resources and to effectively protect the environment. To do so we make use of the methods of substance flow analysis. The Freeware STAN, internally developed by the institute, supports the modelling and simulation of any systems, taking into consideration data uncertainties. This allows a significant increase in quality to be achieved relative to first generation substance flow analysis. The long-term aim is to extend the foundations of substance flow analysis, to learn to understand the function of important systems and to establish goal-oriented substance accounts for relevant substances.
The globally increasing consumption of raw materials has not only led to significant price increases in recent years, but also to the birth of a wide range of resource initiatives. The common aim of these initiatives is to develop efficient ways to deal with raw materials. In addition to securing primary deposits, a central role has been given to the management of man-made deposits (raw materials which are found in infrastructure and in capital and consumption goods). Against this background, it is the aim of the research group, analogous to the prospection and exploration of primary deposits, to identify and characterize ‘man-made deposits’. On this basis the ‘quantity, quality and yield’ of the anthropogenic inventory can be evaluated and be used as a basis for optimizing the management of metallic and mineral resources, for example - for urban mining.
The growth in material turnover is increasingly putting demands on the carrying capacity of the environment for substances which are released into water, soil and air. Despite intensified efforts to recycle products at the end of their life cycle and to reuse them as secondary raw materials, fractions of materials put into circulation are discharged into the environment by means of landfilling or by dissipative processes such as emissions, corrosion, wear, and weathering. The total substance flows on one hand, and the behavior and long-term effects of these substances on the environmental on the other hand constitute the core focus of our research. The aim of the research group ‘Sink’ is to define the terms sink and final sink, to understand better their capacities and functions, and to answer the question whether the anthropogenic metabolism is ultimately limited by missing sink capacities.