Samples taken from Ida-Viru County ash hill for studying possible uses

Ragn-Sells project manager Alar Saluste says the technology and research for valorizing newly generated ash are in a fairly mature phase, but possible applications also need to be found for the hundreds of millions of tonnes of ash deposited in previous decades. “The next step is to conduct investigations into the historical ash deposits to chart the untapped possibilities. One future aim would certainly be to find circular-economy-based ways of using these extremely large volumes of waste,” added Saluste

In cooperation with Engineering Bureau STEIGER and University of Tartu scientists, Ragn-Sells has taken core samples from an oil shale ash hill in Ida-Viru County for the purpose of gathering information that will support further research into valorizing the older layers of the deposited ash. The same consortium is also implementing a project for valorization of newly generated ash. 

University of Tartu research fellow Riho Mõtlep said attempts to find new uses for the waste generated by the oil shale energy sector have so far focused on “fresh” ash. “But the older deposits also hold promise when it comes to processing and enhancing the value of the material. And so this newly launched applied research project started by boring into and taking samples for the first time from the untouched core part of the ash deposit; which will give us information about whether the ash, after lying untouched for decades, can be used as a valuable raw ingredient,” said Mõtlep.  

Ragn-Sells AS established a subsidiary, R-S OSA Service OÜ, to administer the oil shale ash valorization project launched five years ago. The company has led the creation of a scientific consortium in which, among others, researchers from the University of Tartu and the Tallinn University of Technology are involved in fundamental and applied research. Recently, the Archimedes Foundation came aboard as a co-financing provider for the research. 

Research into solutions for recycling the ash from combustion of oil shale for electricity is focusing on the chemical composition of the ash and ways of recovering the chemical compounds for industrial production of materials. Such technologies would help ease the load on the Ida-Viru County environment and reduce the need for quarrying other natural resources in Europe and around the world. The aim of the technology is to enhance over 1 million tonnes of ash per year using a carbon-neutral process. 

Ragn-Sells has many years of experience developing and launching circular economy solutions. This May, Ragn-Sells Group announced the launch of the construction of a new fly ash enhancement plant near Stockholm, Sweden. When it is completed two years from now, the plant will allow close to one-half of the fly ash generated in Sweden to be valorised as industrial salts. 

Ragn-Sells Group is a family-owned Swedish company operating in four countries. Founded in 1881, the company specialises in the development and provision of solutions that support recovery and the circular economy. Ragn-Sells Estonia employs 275 people and the company has a turnover of 27 million euros. 

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