The Estonian oil shale ash upcycling project was selected for four programmes at the Glasgow climate summit

The oil shale upcycling project developed in Estonia by the environment company Ragn Sells will be presented on four stages at the COP26 climate conference held in Glasgow next week - at the European Union, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Nordic countries and global climate organisation We Don’t Have Time pavilions.

According to the oil shale ash upcycling project manager at Ragn Sells AS, Alar Saluste, introducing the project at the climate summit is the highest possible recognition for Estonia, Estonian scientists and the companies participating in the project. “While the central issue at the conference is the climate situation and carbon emissions, our project is one of the few examples of how waste that has burdened the environment for decades can be used as raw material. Basically, we derive calcium from the oil shale ash, bind in it the CO2 that causes so much trouble in the world and as a result obtain a material that can be used for manufacturing window frames or wall paint,” Saluste said. According to Saluste, the principle of using existing materials to the maximum extent and avoiding extracting new materials is even more important than the developed technology itself.

Today, Estonia has become one of fastest the countries to reduce energy sector carbon emissions in Europe. The Ragn-Sells circular economy project sets an additional focus on recycling the waste the energy sector has produced over previous decades. At the climate summit, Estonia’s experience with climate neutral industry and in introducing circular economy options will also be shared by prime minister Kaja Kallas, president Kersti Kaljulaid and the European Commission commissioner for energy Kadri Simson.

Biggest Northen Europe Circular Project will be presented on four stages

The oil shale ash upcycling project will be presented on the 1st November on the ICC stage, on the 2nd November on the Nordic countries stage, on the 6th November on the EU stage within the Estonian-Finnish joint programme and on the 7th November at the world’s largest climate platform We Don`t HaveTime.

When researching the solutions for recycling the ashes from producing electricity using oil shale, the focus is on the chemical composition of the ashes and the possibilities of reusing the chemical components found in the ashes in various material industries. Such waste reuse technologies would help to decrease on the one hand the environmental burden on the Ida-Viru County and on the other the need to extract additional natural resources both in Europe and the wider world in general.

The aim of the development of the technology is to upcycle more than 1 million tonnes of oil shale ashes per year using a carbon neutral process, and the additional resources that are incorporated are constantly recycled. Deriving calcium from the ash produces such leftover components like silicon, aluminium and magnesium which are also recycled, and this material can be used in a compact manner either as an inert filler or low-quality filler when producing, for example, bitumen, concrete or plastic.

For the purpose of the oil shale ash upcycling research project launched six years ago, Ragn-Sells AS established a subsidiary RS-OSA Service OÜ in Estonia. A research consortium with the scientists from the University of Tartu and Tallinn University has since been established. Archimedes Foundation and Enterprise Estonia have joined the project as co-financers. Ragn-Sells has already invested nearly 1.5 million euros in the project.

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