R&D &

Befesa’s research and development (R&D) strategy is designed to create value by developing sustainable improvements to existing technologies, optimising operations and product quality, developing new processes for achieving higher recycling efficiency, reducing costs and improving environmental conditions.

Strategic focus and approach

Befesa’s R&D strategic plan aims to be a technologically competitive reference in providing sustainable environmental services to recycle hazardous residues from the steel and aluminium industries, with a core focus on steel dust, salt slags and SPL.

The R&D activities are organised into two teams in order to develop new technological and sustainable environmental service solutions that are adapted to the technological processes of each of the businesses. These two teams meet on a regular basis to exchange the achievements, findings, knowledge and developments of their respective projects.

Employees in R&D

Befesa’s R&D and innovation strength is based on the teams’ experience and qualifications across various specialisations. In 2020, a total of 14 employees (2019: 14) were dedicated to R&D activities. Of these, nine were a part of the Steel Dust Recycling Services segment and five were part of the Aluminium Salt Slags Recycling Services segment.

Expenses on R&D

The expense on R&D activities amounted to €3.2 million in 2020, which represents a 10% increase YOY (2019: €2.9 million).

In the Steel Dust Recycling Services segment, expenses on R&D activities amounted to €1.4 million in 2020, flat YOY (2019: €1.4 million).

In the Aluminium Salt Slags Recycling Services segment, expenses on R&D activities amounted to €1.8 million in 2020, up 20% YOY (2019: €1.5 million).

Collaborations network

One of the pillars of Befesa’s R&D strategy is external collaboration. This is primarily executed via research groups and institutions, public research centres, universities and other industrial enterprises with whom Befesa frequently collaborates on R&D projects.

Befesa is a founding partner of the Basque Innovation Agency, which seeks to coordinate and promote innovation in the Basque Country. Befesa is also a member of the Labein Tecnalia Foundation, a private technology centre with significant business involvement that creates partnerships within their markets to develop innovative capacity using technology as a tool to increase competitiveness. Befesa has developed projects in collaboration with institutions such as Acciona Infraestructuras R&D, Cooperativa Mondragón, Edertek Fagor Ederlan, CIE Automotive and ICM-CSIC (in Spain), IAB and Ibutec (in Germany) and NTNU (in Norway).

Befesa is also undertaking projects in collaboration with universities such as the University of the Basque Country, the University of Valladolid and the University of Oviedo (in Spain) and with the University of Leoben (in Austria), where Befesa is contributing to the project funding of the competence network for the assessment of metal-bearing by-products (COMMBY).

Research pipeline projects

  • Evaluating potential improvements of metallurgical use of carbon dioxide-neutral carbon sources for the Waelz process;
  • Optimising the efficiency of the Waelz process by monitoring the installed pilot inline process;
  • Testing the transfer of Waelz slag into a by-product and evaluating the usability of the potential products; and
  • Reducing waste streams at stainless-steel dust recycling sites through the treatment and internal recycling and/or transfer into valuable by-product.
  • Bauxal II: Valorisation of aluminium by-products from the salt slags recycling process to produce refractory materials as an alternative to calcined bauxite;
  • SisAl: An innovative pilot for silicon production with a low environmental impact using secondary aluminium and silicon raw materials;
  • Alusalt: Studying and improving the quality of melting salt that is recovered in the salt slags valorisation process;
  • FISSAC: Fostering industrial symbiosis for a sustainable, resource-intensive industry across the extended construction value chain;
  • Radius: Recycling automotive brake discs by upgrading metallic scraps;
  • Al fused: New corundum-based abrasive materials from secondary bauxite of the aluminium recycling process;
  • Alumelt: A new quality of secondary aluminium across the improvement of the recycled salts;
  • Mat EV: New polymeric materials with advanced properties which can be used to produce new-generation components and systems in electric vehicles;
  • Alujoint: A light modulated chassis developed by means of the integration of the structural components using advanced technology of manufacture and aluminium joint; and
  • HPP: Using high-pure secondary aluminium oxide to manufacture LEDs and electronic components.

R&Di Aluminium

Befesa Aluminio has its own R&D testing house centre where R&D efforts are concentrated to achieve our key objectives.

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