Wastezilla: Recycled waste biomass for efficient recovery of critical elements - 2022HYH95P

PRIN 2022 – Finanziato dall’Unione europea NextGenerationEU

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The project Wastezilla deals with the design and development of new multifunctional nanomaterials (MNMs), based on recycled waste biomass, able to detect, bind and extract critical raw materials (CRMs) such as Nd, Dy and Pd from solutions simulating e-wastes. Once sorbed, green solvents like Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES) will be tested for desorption as an alternative to classical treatment. Wastezilla has two main aims: a) valorization of waste biomass; b) development of new sustainable protocols to recover critical elements. Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca MUR - BANDO 2022 Wastezilla will make it possible to connect wastes coming from the food production cycles with those of the digital supply chain, creating a new (bi)cycle at an even higher level. Waste biomass (such as pomaces coming from agri-food supply chains or beached Posidonia oceanica) will be converted into biochars (BCs) and Carbon Quantum Dots (CQDs) to be used as platforms for the development of MNMs able to interact efficiently and selectively with target cations by means of sorption mechanisms. Platforms will be decorated by polyfunctional organic pendants synthesized ad-hoc to exploit specific functions towards the selected targets. Green conditions and mild methodologies will be adopted. The obtained MNMs will be tested on a lab-scale with synthetic solutions of single or multiple metal cationstypical of e-waste, to assess sorption selectivity. To this aim, thermodynamic and kinetic models will be used to define the sorption mechanism, the equilibrium and the rate constants, and the sorption enthalpy. Computational methods will be employed to support the interpretation of experimental data and drive the finetuning of the sorbent materials. Robust chemometric tools based on a multivariate approach will be used to optimize each step of the project and to evaluate its performances. Once concentrated on the solid phase, the metals will be partitioned in a solvent for the successive recovery. Green alternatives to the usual treatments to recover critical elements once they are selectively sorbed onto MNMs from a complex matrix will be tested. In particular, the use of DES which have recently emerged as interesting receiving phases for metal extraction and separation will be explored. Wastezilla will provide the creation of a new multi-level network, collaborating local, national, and international stakeholders, optimizing complementary infrastructures available in the involved institutions. The consortium is sustained by strong chemical expertise, management skills, instrumental and computational facilities that will assess not only a long-term impact in broader scientific collaboration and technology transfer but also a social and economic improvement since it will face issues such as waste management, circular economy, and recovery of critical elements.


  • Università degli Studi di Messina
  • Università degli Studi di Udine
  • Università degli Studi di Palermo
  • Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo

Importo del progetto

Importo totale dell’intero progetto   Euro 247.926,00
Importo del progetto Uniud             Euro 55.057,00

Contributo MUR Uniud                   Euro 46.847,00
Cofinanziamento Uniud                  Euro 8.210,00


  • Data avvio progetto 28 settembre 2023
  • Data conclusione progetto 27 settembre 2025