Asbestos: an ecological solution to dispose of it

There is talk for years of the dangers of disposing of asbestos, particularly in the construction sector, classified as hazardous by the mandatory regulations. It seems that finally was found a permanent solution and environmentally sustainable even reinstate him into a new life cycle, making the material from toxic waste to reusable resource.

To date, there are different methods of disposal for making harmless substance, although all very expensive. For example France to denature asbestos fibers using plasma lamp, effective but expensive (900 € / Ton). A significantly lower prices (140 € / Ton), in Italy asbestos is packaged and disposed of in landfills, quarries exhausted coated polymers. Choice that involves high criticality. In landfills bales of asbestos are pressed to be better sunken. Dangerous practice because it shatters asbestos inside the packs, making it a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and therefore carcinogenic when, inevitably will sell the plastic wrap and the fibers will become free polluting aquifers.

The innovative solution is exactly from Italy and in particular by the Chemical Center Srl, on the initiative of Prof. Norberto Roveri, director of the Laboratory of Structural Chemistry Environmental and Biological (LEBSC) at the Department of Chemistry “G. Ciamician” of the University of Bologna.

Researchers at LEBSC use their particular experiences in nanotechnology acquired in basic research on materials is “biomimetic” both “geomimetici”. The biomimetic materials are synthetic materials that mimic for the composition, structure, morphology, surface reactivity and many other chemical-physical characteristics of natural biological materials, while among the geomimetic materials, namely those that are synthesized with chemical-physical characteristics which copy geological materials natural, the asbestos fibers are certainly the ‘most interesting example.

These geomimetics fibers represent the first reference standard for the study of physico-chemical characteristics of asbestos. Having developed the synthetic method of formation geomimetic fibers of asbestos allowed these researchers to flip from the chemical point of view the process of training and then to understand how power denature and destroy completely natural asbestos fibers.

The Chemical Center has filed a patent that describes a biotechnological process of destruction of asbestos cement products (asbestos cement sheets) using serum exhausted milk. With this process is obtained before the removal of the cement component by the acidity of the metabolites of Lactobacillus casei present in the whey and the complete liberation of the asbestos fibers, which are then destroyed completely with a hydrothermal process at 180 ° C, always in serum of milk. The two stages of the process are:

  • solubilization of component cement;
  • complete denaturation of asbestos fibers.

Both are made with chemical processes completely submerged in the whey, with no possibility of release of asbestos fibers in the air. The patented process uses two hazardous waste (asbestos-cement and exhausted milk serum), to obtain commercially viable products such as water-based paint, calcium hydroxide, calcium carbonate, fertilizers and especially metals (Mg, Ni, Mn, Fe .. …) , which are electrochemically deposited, and having as exclusive downloadable waste water in the sewer.

The Chemical Center Srl, TUV certified, accredited to the Innovation Network of Emilia Romagna and prize from the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna for the “Research and Innovation Award 2011” for the patent the denaturing of asbestos fibers through the ‘use of serum exhausted milk, recently sold licensed its patent for the construction of the first prototypes of the industrial plant.


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