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The PaperChain project, coordinated by ACCIONA Construction, carries out its first case study in Zaragoza

  • The European project, included in the H2020 programme, seeks to recover waste from the paper and pulp industry for reuse in the construction, mining and chemical sectors

With the slogan “New market niches for paper and pulp industry waste based on circular economy approaches”, PaperChain will deploy five novel circular economy models focussed on the recovery of waste generated by the paper and pulp industry as secondary raw material in resource-intensive sectors.

The project, coordinated by ACCIONA Construction, has a budget of €7.8 million financed by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. Twenty partners are participating from five European countries, with a network of collaborators that include the town councils of Villamayor de Gállego, Ejea de los Caballeros, El Burgo de Ebro and the regional government of Aragon’s department of mobility.

PaperChain includes five real-scale demonstrations in a variety of operating environments: construction in Portugal (asphalt and concrete), Spain (soil stabilisation layers on highways) and Slovenia (compound materials for landslide stabilisation); chemicals in Sweden (bioethanol for secondary chemical products) and mining, also in Sweden (sealing layers for construction waste sites).

Recovery and reuse of fly ash in highway stabilisation

In Spain, ACCIONA Construction will demonstrate the viability of using fly ash generated by the SAICA energy recovery plant in El Burgo de Ebro. The ash will replace cement and lime in two test sections of stabilised soil.

The ash is currently the main waste generated by the paper recycling activity, so its recovery will bring the facilities in El Burgo de Ebro closer to their “zero waste” target. At the same time, use of this ash would lead to significant reductions in the carbon footprint of highway construction by replacing cement and lime, significant sources of CO2, with waste initially destined for landfill.

The first demonstration will be conducted in October in Villamayor de Gállego, Zaragoza. Nearly one-kilometre of the road surface on Calle La Balsa will be renewed with a layer of type-three stabilised soil (S-EST3) with 5% paper industry fly ash instead of cement and finished with a dual-treatment asphalt surface.

The demo is intended to verify an increase in the durability of this type of road and its environmental safety through long-term monitoring. This pilot will significantly improve conditions on this road, which skirts the town to the west and south, by modifying the road surface and asphalt.

The second test section will be carried out in Ejea de los Caballeros, Zaragoza, stabilising one kilometre of an unpaved road near the Los Bohalares periurban park. In this case, 3% fly ash will be added to the current clay soil, which will be covered with a layer of gravel identical to the current one.

The ash virtually eliminates any expansion in these soils and increases their load-bearing capacity. This is expected to generate significant savings in maintenance, which is important in an area with an extensive network of rural roads and intense farming and livestock activity due to the associated heavy machinery traffic.

These demonstrations led by ACCIONA Construction, in coordination with SAICA, include the collaboration of the Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Tecnalia and the government of Aragon’s highways laboratory.

More information: www.paperchain.eu and https://www.acciona-construccion.com/es/innovacion/proyectos-de-innovacion/materiales/paperchain/

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