Industrial symbiosis and green chemistry: One's waste is another's resource!

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Industrial symbiosis, the sharing of industrial by-products to add value, reduce costs and improve the environment, will become increasingly important for the sustainable future of our planet. By employing this philosophy alongside green chemical technologies it is possible to develop new materials that will open doors to a variety of applications. Herein, three case studies demonstrate how "wastes" from food, agriculture and consumer electronics may be transformed into valuable materials for water treatment, construction and medical applications, respectively. Case study 1: Worldwide, more than 1000 tons of dyes are discharged into water courses annually. This poses a significant hazard to flora and fauna. Waste polysaccharides (starch and alginic acid) can be expanded and pyrolysed to produce mesoporous carbonaceous materials (Starbon®).[1] Starbons® have demonstrated great promise as adsorbents for the removal of cationic and anionic dyes from aqueous waste streams. Manipulation of pyrolysis temperature provides full tuneability of chemical and textural properties, allowing control over adsorption characteristics. Polysaccharides are inexpensive, non-toxic, biodegradable and are found in nearly every geographical location on the planet.[2] Making Starbons® ideal candidates for water treatment. Case study 2: Many countries are combusting large volumes of biomass in order to meet renewable energy targets, resulting in significant quantities of new waste: biomass fly ash and slag. The valorization of these wastes is vital to ensure recovery and reuse of the inorganic species.[3] Current and ongoing research is demonstrating the use of silicates from ash as an effective replacement for traditional formaldehyde binders in construction boards. Case study 3: Liquid crystal displays (LCD) are the fastest growing electronic waste stream in the EU and contain many valuable chemicals, including indium (reserves of which are dwindling).[4,5] Emphasizing the necessity for industrial symbiosis and "elemental sustainability" for all elements, not just carbon! By adopting a holistic approach to LCD utilization we have demonstrated that liquid carbon dioxide can efficiently extract liquid crystals, indium can be recovered and low value polymers can be transformed into porous materials that may find use as tissue scaffolds.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTechnical Proceedings of the 2011 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo, NSTI-Nanotech 2011
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2011
EventNanotechnology 2011: Electronics, Devices, Fabrication, MEMS, Fluidics and Computational - 2011 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo, NSTI-Nanotech 2011 - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: 13 Jun 201116 Jun 2011


ConferenceNanotechnology 2011: Electronics, Devices, Fabrication, MEMS, Fluidics and Computational - 2011 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo, NSTI-Nanotech 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston, MA


  • Adsorption
  • Carbon
  • Silicate
  • Supercritical
  • Waste

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