Accelerated Supergene Processes in Repository Engineering (ASPIRE)
We face serious strategic challenges with the future supply of both aggregates and critical elements. At the same time, we must also sustainably manage continued multimillion tonne annual arisings of industrial, mining and mineral wastes. Recently, focus has turned to moving towards a Circular Economy, yet many wastes continue to be landfilled despite often containing valuable resources including critical metals, soil macronutrients and mineral components which sequester atmospheric CO2.
Funded by the EPSRC, the ASPIRE (Accelerated Supergene Processes in Repository Engineering) team proposes a step-change in waste repository design for industrial and/or mineral-rich wastes, with a change in focus from solely environmental and health protection to one where environmental protection and resource recovery are designed in. This looks to extend conventional landfill design to include in-built biogeochemical engineering to separate and concentrate resources and contaminants. The ASPIRE concept would therefore provide a potentially practicable Circular Economy solution for materials that would otherwise go to conventional landfill, thus at minimum shifting landfill disposal and treatment for recycling at the base of the waste hierarchy towards the Circular Economy.
ASPIRE ultimately seeks to end of the current “linear” landfilling of wastes in favour of reuse as aggregates and ores as opposed to displacing any existing economically viable and sustainable recycling technologies for mineral-rich wastes.
ASPIRE is a collaboration between Cardiff University, University of Leeds, University of Hull and UWE Bristol.