Waste recycling experts Scott Bros are hoping academics from Teesside University can assist in finding a practical solution for utilising their own particular brand of unwanted ‘filter cake’.
The Teesside firm’s state-of-the-art £1m wash plant processes construction and excavation waste into high quality sand and aggregate for use in the building and construction industry.
However, 30% of every 20-tonnes which pass through the wash plant process is fine-grained clay-based ‘filter cake’ material which can only be used as a pond lining clay or inert fill.
Scott Bros is working with experts from the University’s School of Science, Engineering and Design to find a practical and commercial use for the filter cake, whilst making positive contributions towards the circular economy in Teesside.
The research, which will conclude next summer, is already producing “encouraging results” in its quest to find a method of binding the material together to produce a commercial cementitious product.
Possibilities include its use in the brick manufacturing process, floor screeds and potentially ground improvement.
The research carried out by the University is part-funded by a Government grant and is part of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme, designed to help businesses innovate through academic support.
The wash plant, situated at the company’s site at Norton Bottoms, near Stockton, is capable of processing between 50 and 70 tonnes of waste per hour to produce both coarse and fine sand, together with three grades of other coarser aggregates.
The products are cheaper and reduces the environmental damage caused by the quarrying and production of primary materials.
Scott Bros director Peter Scott said: “This sustainable process is creating in-demand building products, but we are determined to achieve zero waste.
“We would dearly love to say that we recycle 100 percent of everything passing through the wash plant into valuable construction material.
“Scott Bros is proud to play an active role in keeping our precious resources in use for as long as possible.
“Our investment in the wash plant, together with the work we are carrying out with Teesside University, underlines our commitment to the circular economy.”
As part of the research, academics from Teesside University visited the wash plant and studied the processes involved.
Dr Paul Sargent, Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Teesside University, said: “This research project is progressing very well. Extensive laboratory testing has been undertaken in characterising the nature of the filter cake, which enables us to decide how best to bind it together for producing a cementitious product.
“Mechanical strength trials are ongoing and have been producing some encouraging results. We are now in the process of identifying an optimised mixture and manufacturing process for upscaling from laboratory to full scale.”
• Pictured above (left to right): Bob Borthwick and Peter Scott of Scott Bros with Dr Paul Sargent and research graduate Feysal Shifa.