BHS-Sonthofen GmbH, Sonthofen/Germany and MSW Mineralstoffwerke Südwest received the German Resources Efficiency Award 2016 on 16th February 2017 (Figure 1). The prestigious prize was awarded by the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy to the two companies to commend the development and successful implementation of the Combimix process. This process turns a previously worthless mining by-product accumulated in quarries into a valuable building resource. BHS developed the Combimix process based on their twin-shaft batch mixers and implemented it together with MSW at their quarry in Mönsheim. This marked the first German project of this kind.
In quarries and gravel pits, the Combimix process takes clay-and-rock mixtures – which previously had to be refilled or disposed at a landfill – and turns them into a marketable building material. Furthermore, this means that millions of tons of material previously considered worthless and dumped can now be reactivated.
BHS has also installed the Combimix system in several quarries in France using continuous mixers. Before the system was installed, in one facility more than 100,000 t of rock/clay mixture from the quarry had to be dumped every year. More than 90 % of contaminated feed material is now sold as rock grade thanks to the Combimix system.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy awards the German Resources Efficiency Award to exemplary products that efficiently use raw materials and other materials, processes or services, as well as application-oriented research results. A jury comprising 14 members screened over 40 submissions to select four winners in the “Companies” category and a single winner in the “Research Facilities” category.
MSW introduced the process at their Mönsheim quarry in the summer of 2016. It allowed the company to increase their repository’s yield by 25 %. To produce the same volume of the final product, it was previously necessary to extract about 620,000 t of limestone annually. Now the total is around 188,000 t less, which corresponds to a relative reduction of around 30 %. It helped to increase raw material efficiency from the previous level of 65 to 70 % to around 93 %.
Dennis Kemmann, the Managing Director of BHS-Sonthofen GmbH, is already thinking ahead: “Our Combimix process holds a vast potential as it enables companies across the globe and throughout various industries to utilize resources more efficiently. In the context of rehabilitating contaminated soil, Combimix can be used to remove oil and other harmful substances. As a result, only a small fraction of the feed material needs to be dumped in hazardous waste landfills. The process is also viable for the cement industry. Here, it can be applied to processing limestone, a key ingredient that improves the burning process in rotary kilns and thus contributes to reducing fuel consumption.”
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