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UA researchers collaborate on a project to recover heavy metals from industry and reuse them


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UA researchers collaborate on a project to recover heavy metals from industry and reuse them


The Research Group in Electrocatalysis and Electrochemistry of Polymers (GEPE) of the Institute of Materials (IUMA) of the University of Alicante (UA) is actively collaborating in a project to recover heavy metals from industry and reuse them.

The ReMETALIZA project is financed by the Generalitat Valenciana and in which the Technological Institute of Children's Products and Leisure (AIJU), the Metalworking, Furniture, Wood, Packaging and Related Technological Institute (AIDIMME) and three companies from the Valencian Community, two from They are SMEs, as indicated by the UA in a statement.

This initiative aims to recover and reuse heavy metals - mainly chrome and copper - from the wastewater generated by industries in the traditional sectors of the Valencian Community, such as textiles, toys, plastics, metallurgical and footwear and related industries, with the purpose of protecting the environment and improving the efficiency and competitiveness of companies.

After water purification, these raw materials are recovered and can be reused in these sectors or others that are also "very important" in the Valencian autonomy, such as the ceramic or fertilizer sector, among others.

The research team from the University of Alicante, formed by Raúl Berenguer, Emilia Morallón and Paula Pérez, leads research for the recovery of metals through electrochemical technologies, specifically, through electrodialysis and electrodeposition. In addition, it also collaborates in adapting them for reuse in the industries of these sectors. The project also includes validation of the quality of the recovered material to guarantee its viability in final products.

Berenguer explained that the project not only has environmental objectives, but also promotes the circular economy and industrial symbiosis, encouraging the transformation of waste or by-products from some industries into value-added products (secondary raw materials) that can be reused by others. companies.

In addition, it has highlighted the collaboration between different industrial sectors, promoting innovative applications for each one, such as additives in plastics, PVD/PLASMA technology for the textile and metal sector, additives for pigments in ceramic products, among others.

Likewise, Berenguer has highlighted the strategic importance of the project from an economic point of view, "given Spain's current dependence on third countries for these materials" and the need to reduce this dependence, since supplies may be affected by war or military issues. of political instability in these countries.

Finally, he added that environmental legislation "is increasingly restrictive" regarding the discharges of these heavy metals which, in most cases, are harmful to human health and ecosystems.