Dieffenbacher develops fiberboard recycling technology

EcoReFibre meeting and live demonstration at Dieffenbacher’s headquarters in Eppingen, Germany.

Dieffenbacher  GmbH, in collaboration with 19 organisations across seven countries, has spearheaded the EcoReFibre (ecological solutions for recovery of secondary materials from post-consumer fibreboards) research project, backed by a €12 million grant from the European Union.

The primary objective of this initiative is to establish a process for recycling fiberboards at the end of their life cycle and utilizing the recycled wood fibers to manufacture new fiberboard products.

The research was conducted at the Dieffenbacher’s Technical Center, an in-house testing laboratory and research hub that has undergone recent modernisation and expansion efforts, which included the addition of a second steel construction level to increase space by 10%.

Further, the modernisation efforts encompassed upgrading existing machinery such as the ClassiSizer, oscillating screen and exhaust system, as well as incorporating new equipment like a single-shaft shredder, roller screen, mobile conveyor technology, and a central data collection system.

These upgrades have significantly expanded the testing capabilities of the Technical Center across a diverse range of materials.

Initially, fiberboard material underwent shredding into chip size using Dieffenbacher’s single-shaft shredder. Subsequently, the chips were processed through the ClassiSizer to achieve the desired particle size.

The fines produced were then screened on a Dieffenbacher oscillating screen for potential utilization in particleboard production.

The second phase of the demonstration focused on fiberboard-to-fiberboard recycling, involving the production of new fiberboard from recycled fiberboard material.

Utilising a Dieffenbacher ClassiScreen, waste wood provided by project partner Veolia underwent separation into fines, chip-size, and oversized fractions, with the removal of films, textiles, and other lightweight materials. The chip-size material was made available to partner Tomra for subsequent processing.

At Tomra’s facility in Mülheim-Kärlich, the focus centered on sorting the recycled wood by type. Tomra’s X-Tract X-ray sorting machine was employed to detect and remove impurities such as stones, glass, plastics and metals based on their atomic density.

This was followed by the sorting process using Tomra’s GainNext deep-learning technology, which identifies different wood types based on visual characteristics, resulting in a pure fiberboard fraction ready for recycling.

The sorted fiberboard fraction can be directly utilized for fiberboard-to-fiberboard recycling, while the solid wood fraction can serve as a substitute for fresh wood in fiberboard production.

Any remaining material can be repurposed for particleboard production. Integration of Tomra machines into Dieffenbacher’s plant concept ensures seamless sorting operations on an industrial scale.

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Participants of the EcoReFibre meeting inspect the fines for the surface layer in particleboard production, which were produced with the single-shaft shredder, ClassiSizer and oscillating screen.



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