The comprehensive public overview of the project (Deliverable 1.3)


The current situation on the fuel market, mainly related to the war in Ukraine, may cause interruptions in the supply of fuels and other raw materials, including building materials. Development of a comprehensive technology for the management of mine waste dumps is planned within the project. The main idea of the project is to use the separated mineral fractions and fly ash to produce geopolymer composites.

It is planned to use CO2 as a process carrier in the production of composites. Another important aspect of the project is to determine a possibility of obtaining Hydrogen from the gasification of energy fractions. High-quality raw materials for the production of geopolymers and hydrogen will be ensured by the use of an innovative mobile separator for processing of mine waste. The project will enable the creation of environmentally friendly and economically justified installations using material from a post-mining waste landfill.

Achieving the final goal will be possible thanks to the implementation of the partial goals set in the project, including the development of technologies dedicated to the production of geopolymers and hydrogen.

  1. A reduction of mine waste deposited in dumps
  2. A development of the method of using the carbon-bearing fractions recovered from the mine
    waste, for the production of hydrogen
  3. Research into feasibility on manufacturing geopolymers from mine waste
  4. A development of comprehensive technology of mine waste dumps management
Conceptual and research work:
  • 1. creating an inventory of active and reclaimed mine wastes dumps,
  • 2. testing of the physical-chemical and mechanical properties of materials deposited in mine
  • 3. laboratory tests aimed at determining the possibility of using gravity separation for a recovery
    of useful materials from mine waste,
  • 4. a development of a mobile system prototype for separation of coal and useful minerals from
    mine wastes,
  • 5. an dentification of directions and methods for the industrial use of mineral products from the
    mining waste beneficiation process, with particular emphasis on the development of
    geopolymer production technologies,
  • 6. a verifying the possibility of using the energy fraction for the production of hydrogen,
  • 7. a determination of economic, ecological, social and legal aspects of production of geopolymer
    composites and hydrogen from mine waste.


H2GEO corresponds to all three research objectives for the coal sector in the RFCS research program.

The H2GEO project addresses the problems associated with mine dumps resulting from coal extraction and processing, and focuses on the reuse of dumpsite materials (“Supporting the just transition of the coal sector and regions” – Art. 4). Since project aims at reducing the amount of mine waste deposited in dumps, i.e. to reduce adverse environmental and social impacts, the H2GEO project fits directly into Articles 5 and 6 of the RFCS research objectives, i.e. „Improving health and safety” and „Minimising the environmental impacts of coal mines in transition”.

The H2GEO project will demonstrate a solution for the utilization of legacy mine waste assets to promote waste recycling and identify new market opportunities. The project will propose the commercial use of mine dumps to extract and produce valuable products: hydrogen and geopolymer composites. An extremely important environmental and economic issue of the project is the elimination of the negative impact of the dumps and the restoration of the land occupied by the dumps to economic and social use.

The project also addresses socio-economic issues related to the possibility of creating new workplaces in mining regions in transition

In the overall view, the ambitious goal of this project is to apply circular economy in practice. Namely, the utilization of valuable and derelict materials from mine waste dump (MWD) sites to obtain advanced and strategic products like geopolymers, as well as geopolymers-based products, and hydrogen is proposed. One of the very ambitious aspects of the proposal we would like to underscore is a very high level of technology readiness (TRL), that is estimated to be 5 at the end of project. This TRL will refer to the technology of MWD material separation into two streams, namely mineral matter, and enriched combustible matter. The mineral matter will be applied in the process of geopolymers production, whereas the enriched combustible fraction will be applied in the H2 production via gasification.

Another ambitious goal is the application of recycling and advanced processing of mineral matter as the feedstock for geopolymers and high value-added geopolymer-based products production. Most coal gangue contains clay minerals and has a similar chemical composition to clay, which can be used as raw materials for the preparation of geopolymer and geopolymer materials. However, the coal gangue reactivity needs to be improved before use by activation methods, such as mechanically grinding, thermal and chemical activation. Different activation methods have different activation effects because of the diversity and complexity of coal gangue. Within the project, the novel thermal activation of mineral matter at air and CO2/O2 (70/30 vol.%) atmospheres under higher pressure (i.e. overpressure of 2 bar) will be conducted. The aim of this processing is to obtain better properties of mineral material before geopolymerisation process. Namely, the CO2 concentration should be higher to obtain enough efficiency of carbonates formation.

Increased O2 content may result in auto-thermal process, because the separated mineral part has a small amount of combustible parts (1-5%). Stabilization of carbonates and their presence in the mixture at an appropriate level has a positive effect on the properties and structure of geopolymer composites. Furthermore, the use of coal waste rocks in the preparation of geopolymers suitable for building and construction materials/binders preparation is still relatively poorly recognized, while results on coal mine waste rocks upcycling in geopolymer filtration materials fabrication are absent despite the fact, that coal gangue ceramic membranes, prepared via “traditional” high-cost and high carbon footprint sintering methods with additions of alumina source, exhibited interesting separation properties.

Despite the fact, that geopolymer membranes have been prepared from natural clays like kaolin and coal fly ashes, coal waste rocks have never been used in fabrication of geopolymer filtration materials so this attempt is also innovative aspect and added value of the proposal. Taking into account the much lower energy demand in the case of replacing classic sintering with the geopolymerization method, the actions envisaged in the project are in line with the current sustainable development policy aimed not only at closing the circulation of raw materials, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption in production processes.

Scope of the proposal

The post-mining waste processing technologies, developed as a part of the project, will enable the gradual liquidation of the existing dumps at the maximum use of the waste stored there. The idea is therefore consistent with the vision of a circular economy in which waste generated during the production phase can be recycled and thus become a resource. The most important activity in the project will be the development of a new technology for processing of mineral waste and fly ash with the use (utilization) of CO2 for the production of geopolymer composites.

The versatility of the technology will enable its use in other EU countries, where mine waste dumps cause environmental and social problems. The work in this scope will be supported by the LCA analysis and determination of methods of using the produced composites. The project will define the directions for the management of the energy fraction separated from waste. Research will be carried out to develop an effective method of hydrogen production from synthesis gas obtained from a gasification of carbon-bearing fractions. Moreover, on the basis of the results obtained from the combustion of coal concentrate in terms of the emission of hazardous substances into the atmosphere, the possibilities of its use in the energy sector will be determined. In order to obtain high-quality materials from mine waste for further processing, the concept and documentation of a mobile mine waste separation system will be developed based on the analysis of the possibility of using selected beneficiation processes and the performed laboratory tests.

Developed mobile unit will be equipped with the innovative control system, which will enable a very effective separation of waste material. This process will guarantee obtaining high quality ecological products. A database will be created and all the relevant, measured and calculated parameters obtained during the entire Project, will be registered there. This system will keep continuous archives of relevant measured and calculated data from the project (compositions, parameters, etc.). Based on the results of laboratory tests of mining waste beneficiation process and the physicochemical and mechanical properties of the beneficiation products, other directions for the use of mine waste will also be determined.

The possibilities of using waste from the beneficiation process as building and road materials, for environmental engineering and mining, agriculture and land reclamation will be analyzed and some guidelines will be formulated.

As part of the H2GEO project, the necessary laboratory equipment along with methodology for the geopolymer filtration materials preparation from coal combustion fly ash and bottom ash, developed during the ongoing ZeoPerMem project coordinated by ITPE will be adapted. Due to the fact that these activities will be carried out by the same group of ITPE employees, the link will be established without any difficulties. Thanks to this, it will be possible to use the already tested solution, which will only require adaptation due to the use of the different novel waste materials. The H2GEO project will take a strong interdisciplinary approach that will bring together a partnership of organisations with valued research and innovation experience. The consortium consists of partners with expertise and methods from different disciplines such as mineral processing engineering, environmental sciences, waste management and thermochemical processing. These are combined in the H2GEO activities and will be brought together and integrated in pursuit of the project objectives creating an interdisciplinary approach. The consortium is composed of scientific institutions with very significant experience in research projects and an industrial partner whose activities are related to mine waste dumps processing and environmental protection activities. This guarantees a high level of content and the achievement of the project’s objectives.

Project’s impact

The effect of implementing the results of the project will be to eliminate the negative impact of mine dumps and to return land occupied by dumps to economic and social use. As a result of the project undertakings, methods will be developed to convert waste into valuable products in the form of hydrogen and geopolymers. Implementation of the proposed solutions will create new workplaces in mining regions in transition. The project will carry out studies, field research, laboratory tests and spatial analysis to achieve its objectives.

H2GEO will affect the following target groups :

  • local government units,
  • entrepreneurs
  • scientific units
  • social and environmental

The expected broader environmental, technological, scientific, economic and societal effects of the project
contributing to the impact are:


  • Implementing the concept of coal waste processing will help both treat environmental and earth careproblems and create added value from waste at the local and European level
  • Improved resource efficiency and reduced environmental impact
  • a reduction in the amount of waste remaining on mine dumps will reduce the environmental burden on the region and make it more attractive to future investors and residents;


  • Increasing the number of subcontractors who learn and encouraging the market to move in this direction
  • Attract investment, innovation and jobs to coal regions in transition by increasing interest in reusing


Specific needs

Need for development of the methods for recycling of useful materials to protect natural resources. Reducing the hazards (fires causing release of polluting gases, contamination of surface and ground waters with chlorides and sulphates) and environmental degradation caused by mine dumps Restoration of large-scale degraded areas for reuse or preparation for new functions

Expected results

Development of the method for separation of mine wastes into high-quality products (coalbearing fraction, mineral fraction) for use in the production of hydrogen and geopolymers. Development of a method to produce hydrogen from carbon-bearing fractions of mining waste Determining the possibility of producing geopolymer composites with CO2 and fly ash used from mineral products of mining waste

  • Launching and keeping update a project website – with information regarding planned results and benefits, continuously updated information about the project achievements (also as regards results), activities carried out by the project consortium.
  • Scientific publications covering results of research findings obtained in the project, regarding:
    • results of laboratory tests and analyses of mine waste dumps
    • results of work on the use of coal-bearing fractions for hydrogen production
    • results of research on the use of mineral fractions for the production of geopolymer composites
  • Promotional/marketing articles in online media will be published to present the developed solutions in an easy (non-scientific) and attractive way.
  • Participation in conferences at local/regional, national and European levels. Promotional materials such as videos, presentations, flyers, etc. will be used.
Target Groups
  • Local government units on which degraded areas are located
  • Companies implementing new solutions developed in the project
  • Residents near degraded areas
  • Scientific units/researches carrying out research regarding hydrogen production and geopolymer composites from waste materials
  • Regional, national, pan-European networks, platforms, partnerships and other EU R&I
  • initiatives.
  • Implementation of developed solutions at selected mine dumps for rehabilitation of degraded areas
  • Development of research in geopolymer composites and hydrogen production
  • Promotion of interdisciplinary research and innovation
  • Stimulating local economies, creating new employment opportunities
  • New business models based on circular economy solutions
  • Economic:
    • Commercial use of mine dumps for the extraction of valuable products: hydrogen and geopolymer composites
  • Economic/Societal:
    • New workplaces related to the production of mine waste products and land development
  • Societal/Environmental:
    • Restoration of areas occupied by dumping ground for economic and social use (reclamation).
  • Technological:
    • Introduction of improved products