At RECONMATIC, our dedication to sustainable construction and innovative solutions often leads us to collaborate with groundbreaking initiatives. Today, we're excited to focus on the ICEBERG project, a venture not only aligned with our goals but coordinated by one of our esteemed partners, TECNALIA. As RECONMATIC proceeds to the second year, the ICEBERG Project faces its last year of activity with all case studies in progress. Today, David Garcia Estevez, the project coordinator from TECNALIA is with us to let us know more about it and the commonalities with RECONMATIC.
What is the Iceberg project about?
ICEBERG stands for Innovative Circular Economy Based solutions demonstrating the Efficient recovery of valuable material Resources from the Generation of representative End-of-Life building materials. Just as its namesake suggests, represents an endeavour that delves beneath the surface of sustainable construction practices. It is supported by a consortium of leading European institutions and industries and its mission is to innovate and optimize the recovery and recycling processes of construction and demolition waste (CDW). It proposes integral recovery solutions for the main End-of-life Building Materials (EBM), overcoming the main barriers hindering the Circular Economy (CE) in buildings throughout the whole building value chain.
What are the project objectives?
Its main objective is to develop and demonstrate novel circular and cost-effective smart solutions aiming to increase the recovery and quality of secondary building raw materials along the entire circular value chain: from EBM to new building products prepared for circularity, resource-efficiency and containing 30wt% to 100wt% of high-purity (>92%) recycled content.
“This will be undertaken through 6 pilot circular case studies, covering building materials accounting for more than 85% by weight of the European built environment. ICEBERG will also contribute to raising building circularity awareness among the stakeholder communities -local authorities, professionals, students and final building users”.
What are the main challenges faced?
The technological challenges addressed in the ICEBERG project can be classified in three groups.
Difficulties and lack of solutions for accurate planning and material quantification at demolition stage, identification and authentication during the use, management and reuse stages and overall traceability of the materials themselves and the related environmental impacts.
Contamination and low purity level of current recovered building materials, which hamper their acceptance and use as secondary materials.
Low circularity of building systems and products, and low demand for secondary raw material.
In addition the project is also working to reduce some non-technical barriers, as policies, standards and awareness by the users and citizens.
The digital innovations of the Iceberg project
The solutions proposed in the project were clustered in three groups, in line with the previous three challenges. For the first and second group, some digital innovations have been developed.
Digital tools to support the preparatory activities before demolition works, the identification and authentication of materials and the traceability of them from the End-of-life building to the new products including secondary materials have been developed and integrated: BIM4DW (BIM for demolition waste), IAT (identification and authentication toolkit) and BTP (Blockchain based traceability platform), There are active functional versions of all these tools.
BIM4DW – Configurator module for quick building modelling and inventory
A mobile sorting unit was developed to classify mixed waste streams coming from demolition sites were full selective separation could not been achieved. This equipment includes a hyperspectral imaging sensor (HSI), deep learning algorithms and a sorting system with an attached blower. It has been optimised for the sorting of stony mixed fractions (concrete + ceramics + gypsum and other rejection fractions) and insulating materials (PUR, PIR).
Feeder with mixed construction and demolition waste pieces
Automatically sorted materials after the mobile unit with hyperspectral image sensor, deep learning and blowing valves.
Details of them can be found in www.iceberg-project.eu.
Where are you going to demonstrate these innovations and how?
In 2023 ICEBERG solutions are being demonstrated (at TRL7) through 6 case studies across different locations in Europe (Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Spain/France and Turkey), representing common European building typologies (residential and non-residential), execution practices and multiple building materials accounting for more than 85% of the European built environment.
Each case study will follow a common circular procedure encompassing the following shared elements:
Perform pre-demolition audit on chosen buildings.
Execution of selective refurbishment/demolition.
Waste processing: industrial application of new sorting and processing technologies.
Resource-efficient optimization and production of new circular building products.
Installation and use in representative building spaces.
Demonstration of the new digital building materials traceability service.
Simulation of easy-disassembly of the new building products in mock-ups
Assessment of materials, energy and water consumption over the circular chain.
The expected outcomes of the project
ICEBERG expects to produce a large list of exploitable results: 3 digital solutions for demolition supporting, identification and traceability of building materials, 6 technologies for automatic sorting and purification of secondary raw materials and a total of 9 new circular building products including high quantities of recovered materials from current end-of-life buildings. These include cement, ceramics, wood, gypsum, insulating foams and silica -based products. Industrial manufacturers are partners in the consortium and the realistic exploitation intentions are being monitored during the project progress.
Manufacturing of functional zero-cement blocks, through carbonation of crushed concrete waste and slag.
How projects like Iceberg and RECONMATIC are beneficial for the construction sector? What is the role of synergies?
In general, EU-funded research projects play a crucial role in driving the transformation and progress of the construction sector. They foster innovation, sustainability, and collaboration, leading to improved practices, technologies and knowledge transfer. They promote the development of new materials, processes and technologies that can enhance sustainability (carbon footprint and others), productivity, circularity and efficiency in construction practices.
As the projects involve collaboration between different stakeholders, such as academia, industry (SME, large companies and associations) and research institutions, they foster networking and knowledge sharing, allowing for the exchange of ideas, expertise, and best practices among participants. It helps to create a more connected and collaborative construction ecosystem.
Given the multitude of ongoing projects, researchers are focusing on leveraging collective resources and expertise. This approach ensures optimized use of public funds, avoids duplication of efforts, and maximizes potential synergies.
In practice, this collaborative ethos is evident in our synergy with RECONMATIC. ICEBERG will provide the technical basis on which new product solutions will be developed and validated. The transferred knowledge will be used mainly in the activities dedicated to the higher valorization of recyclable waste materials. Regular meetings between the two projects provide updates on progress and help plan the next steps for the technologies developed, underscoring the shared commitment to progress and innovation.
Learn more about our synergies with other projects by visiting the RECONMATΙC synergies webpage and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to date with our collaborations and activities. To receive our updates directly in your inbox, please subscribe to our newsletter.