Turning waste into railroad counterweight and garden tiles

Team CORE from Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a new installation that converts waste streams such as fly ash, sludge and shredder residue into an artificial replacement for basalt, This was done using a smelter installation that could go up to 1450 °C.
Basalt is volcanic rock that is imported mainly from China and Norway and serves, among other things, as ballast to keep the sleepers of train tracks in place.
CORE’s facility effectively solves two problems: it gives a new function to fly ash (a stream released from incinerators such as biomass plants and household waste plants), sludge and shredder residue. These wastes are currently dumped, and this can pose a longer-term health and storage problem.
In addition, the process provides a safe, artificial substitute for basalt, which can be used as an alternative to the natural variant mined abroad and transported over long distances to the Netherlands. Transport by ship currently causes a lot of CO2 emissions, and the quarrying of basalt is also an environmentally polluting process. Basalt is used in the Netherlands for example as railroad ballast or in the production of garden tiles.

Credits: TU Eindhoven

A large part of the funding for the installation came from ProRail and TU/e. The rest of the funding was provided by two TU/e alumni: Jan van Gemert (former CEO Gemco Casting) and Hans Fischer (former CEO TATA Steel).

The installation during the pouring process (Photo: Dirk van Meer)