University of Oulu to coordinate a major circular economy research project

The multi-industry SecRes project aims to transform by-products from the forestry, chemical, mining and metal processing industries into raw materials, for example for the concrete industry or fertilisers.

Business Finland has granted a significant Co-innovation research funding to the SecRes research consortium coordinated by the University of Oulu. The project is a part of the Bio & Circular Finland program. In addition to the University of Oulu, several companies (such as ANDRITZ Oy, Finnish Minerals Group, Keramia Oy, Metsä Fibre Oy, Keliber Technology Oy, Hyperion Robotics Oy and Betolar) participate in the consortium.

"The industry generates a lot of by-products which, if not used, can become waste, causing environmental problems, costs and hampering investments," says Ulla Lassi, Professor at the University of Oulu, who is leading the project.

The two-year SecRes project connects several industrial sectors in a new way. The goal of the project is the efficient utilization of calcium carbonate and sodium sulfate, which are formed as a by-product in industry, into new products, and thus to promote the goals of the circular economy and the competitiveness of industry. "The aim is that recycling of chemicals and reuse of by-products can even lead to completely waste-free industrial processes," says Lassi.

The results of the project serve more widely, for example, the extractive industry, metal processing and pulping industry, where these by-products are formed or used as precipitation and/or neutralization chemicals.

In the SecRes project, the use of calcium carbonate as a raw material for the concrete industry (binders), in the manufacturing of alkali-activated materials (geopolymers), as a raw material for the manufacture of fertilizers and as a neutralizing chemical is examined.

Regarding sodium sulfate, a process is being developed to produce new chemicals that can be used industrially, and sodium sulfate is being used in the production of alkali-activated materials. Broadly speaking, the goal is the comprehensive utilization of the by-products and the strengthening of circular economy business that crosses industrial boundaries.

Last updated: 20.6.2023