Processing raw materials

Today's waste materials are tomorrow's raw materials

Processing technologies are required both in mining in order to extract raw materials and in recycling to recover secondary raw materials. In addition to the conventional methods of crushing or grinding for breaking up materials mechanically, techniques used to process composites should ideally not only break up the materials but also separate them at the same time. One such separation process is “electrodynamic fragmentation”: This enables complex inorganic composites such as ash, slags, ceramics or concrete to be selectively separated.

Fine-grained materials can be processed using solution-oriented hydrothermal techniques or special sorting methods. Heavy metals can be selectively precipitated and separated, or fine-grained materials sorted according to their chemical content. If impurities are chemically bound (e.g. sulphate in aerated concrete), wet-chemical methods such as the “ENSUBA” process developed and patented at Fraunhofer IBP can be implemented.

Our experts in “Processing and Recovery” have set themselves the task of finding the optimum solution for each problem fraction. To achieve this, they are combining existing technologies with new processing methods that they are developing. In cooperation with the "Building Materials Technology" unit, for example, they have succeeded in producing aerated concrete from mixed building rubble.

Electrodynamic fragmentation

The disruptive technology of “electrodynamic fragmentation” is used to selectively separate composites such as concrete, slag or ceramic composite materials into their individual components by means of ultrashort, high-voltage, electrical pulses. Thanks to this, material cycles can be closed or new ones created.


To break up materials with varying degrees of hardness, different grinding processes are required. In addition to jaw crushers and ball mills for coarse comminution or grinding, we use vertical wet grinding processes to break up delicate materials gently. 

Wet chemical processes

In cases where impurities or undesirable contaminants are chemically bound in a material, physical processing methods reach their limits. To solve this problem, we develop specific extraction or hydrometallurgical processes - for example, to specifically extract gypsum from building materials.


Electro-optical sorting methods are particularly effective when it comes to the selective separation of mixed materials. In addition to spectroscopic techniques, we develop processes together with our partners that enable individual particles to be sorted according to their chemical composition.