Innovation in the Supply Chain: Recyclable acetic acid for use as a de-icer

Truck and highway at sunset - transportation background

Alumichem and Brenntag Nordic worked togetheron a trial project for a year and a half. The Danish company Alumichem specializes in developing and producing high-quality aluminates for water treatment processes, the concrete industry and winter maintenance services. Alumichem’s research and development team conducted a trial project with “used” acetic acid provided by Brenntag to determine whether this acetic acid could be added to a de-icer without impairing the latter’s effectiveness and quality. The acetic acid came from another company that had used it as a processing aid to produce a product. For Brenntag, there is an extensive scope for research and trial projects in relation to the treatment of products (such as acids and solvents) with the aim of restoring the quality of the substances as effectively as possible after their initial use.

The project team had to be patient. Success was uncertain for some time, as numerous undesired side effects occurred at several stages of the trial.In the end, they managed to eliminate all of these:The effectiveness of the de-icer was virtually the same; only its colour could not be aligned with the original product.

“This is due to the sugar residue from its initial use and is a defect that will be irrelevant for certain purchasers of the recycled product”, says Tina Klarskov Olesen, COO of Alumichem.

The team is satisfied with the results, especially since the product has been accepted positively onthe market. Nonetheless, there were concerns at the beginning of the project due to the complex network of laws regarding the handling of chemicals and waste. An essential aspect of the facilitation of the circular economy approach is that chemicals can be classified as chemical products even after their first use. Classification as waste would significantly complicate their further use. A positive development regarding the further promotion of circular economy models is emerging, particularly on the EU legislative level.

Following the successful pilot project, Brenntag and Alumichem have no doubt that this kind of business model will provide additional potential in the future.

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