Consortium in HUF 1.5 bln red sludge recycling project

Recycling

Peter Gudella/Shutterstock.com

A Hungarian consortium is working on ways to recycle alumina refinery residues, also known as red sludge, in a HUF 1.5 billion project supported by the European Union, state news wire MTI reported on Tuesday.

(Photo: Peter Gudella/Shutterstock.com)

The R&D project, which runs until 2021, is supported by more than HUF 1 bln in EU funding, said project manager Márton Penk.

The consortium is led by Martin Metals, which recycles byproducts from the aluminum industry. The other members are the University of Pannonia (Veszprém), earthworks and site development services provider Geovol, environmental services consultancy Golder Associates, and applied research institute Bay Zoltán Nonprofit. 

More than 50 million tonnes of red sludge are generated in Hungary every year at aluminum industry plants in Ajka (Veszprém County), Almásfüzitő (Komárom-Esztergom County) and Mosonmagyaróvár (Győr-Moson-Sopron County), all in the west of the country, Penk said. The project aims to recover metals and rare earth elements from the sludge that can be used for construction industry materials as well as in biological processes, he added.

The investment carries special significance in Hungary, which suffered one of its worst ever industrial accidents in October 2010 when a waste reservoir containing toxic red sludge in Ajka collapsed, releasing around 1 million cubic meters of liquid waste that flooded nearby settlements, killing ten people. Around 40 square kilometers of land were initially affected, though a quick response and cleanup eventually meant the area enjoyed a full recovery.

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