Project number: LIFE16 ENV/ES/00041

LIFE DIME has as its main objective the validation of an innovative solution for treating waste water resulting from metal industry finishing processes that are characterised by having a high pollutant load and high toxicity.

The LIFE DIME project aims to validate the Chemirec® technology, which permits the recovery of valuable raw materials (annual savings of > € 550,000 per plant) from a flow of hazardous waste produced in large quantities in Europe (380,000 tons per year). It is thus aligned with the environmental policies of the EU and with the EU Water Framework Directive (DMA), Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU (IED) and the Surface Treatment of Metals and Plastics (BREF), among others.

The objective of the LIFE DIME project is to validate that Chemirec® is effectively a highly innovative solution for the recovery of hydrochloric acid (HCl) and other valuable elements such as zinc or ferrous sulphate from liquid waste generated in spent metal pickling baths.

To achieve the general objective, the following specific goals have been defined: 

To develop a highly efficient solution to solve an environmental problem that has not been solved until now and is derived from a widespread global practice, namely, the treatment of metal surfaces to protect them from corrosion and improve their surface appearance (pickling).

To develop a process to permit the recovery of more than 95 % of the hydrochloric acid found in spent pickling baths with a low free acid content (1 – 10 %)

To obtain recoverable elements such as iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) from spent pickling baths in the form of ferrous sulphate and zinc sulphate, respectively.

To reuse free HCl to prepare new pickling baths and recover the iron and zinc recovered in marketable products for use as fertilisers, for example.

To provide an economical and environmentally sustainable technological solution to industries derived from metallurgical and steel processes.

To demonstrate the validity of the proposed technology through the development of a prototype based on the know-how developed and patented by CONDORCHEM.

Environmental and economic objectives

Expected results

Obtain an innovative, economic solution that causes no harm to the environment for the treatment of waste water generated in the metal surface finishing industry with a high replication and transferability rate. In a pilot plant of 2,000 l per day, the Chemirec® technology permits the recovery and saving of more than 594 tons of 18 % HCl per year (297 tons of commercial 35 % HCl per year) and the recovery of more than 284 tons of FeSO4 7H2O per year and 41.5 tons of ZnCl2 per year in the INGALSA galvanising plant. The proposed solution will be focused on proposing economic and environmental advantages for the metallurgical industry and derived industries. By including the Chemirec® technology in their metal finishing processes, steel, iron and other metal industries will significantly reduce their costs through recycling and reusing their spent baths:


Chemirec® permits the recovery and reuse of the main raw materials used to perform pickling and galvanising processes in the steel and galvanising industries:

  • HCl is a basic raw material that is used as a pickling acid in the iron and steel and galvanising industry to eliminate steel oxide. The use of this acid entails a high cost because of its high price. Chemirec® will bring cost savings of € 60 / m3 of 35 % HCl through the recycling of spent acid baths, significantly reducing costs related to this raw material.
  • Cost savings of € 289 per ton associated with the recovery of Zn, as ZnCl2 will be reused in the galvanisation fluxing process phase.

It will generate marketable by-products in the form of Fe2SO4 · 7HO that can be sold to the horticulture and viticulture industries as fertilisers. It is expected that net revenues from the sale of this by-product will be € 40 per ton (selling price of € 65 per ton of ferrous sulphate minus the consumption of sulphuric acid € 25 / ton = net amount of € 40 per ton.)

Chemirec® is a zero liquid discharge technology that will save sludge management costs, as the sludge will be eliminated in the treatment process. Thanks to this, cost savings of € 40 / m3 are forecast, by eliminating the need to neutralise and eliminate SPL and SSL in landfills. In addition, the treatment plant may be located on the client’s premises, which also eliminates transportation costs.

Legal framework

Directive 2008/1 of 15 January (revised text of Directive 1996/61/EC) on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, better known as the IPCC Directive, has the objective of protecting the environment through measures that prevent or at least reduce emissions and waste in the activities included within its scope of application, to reach an optimum level of environmental protection, considering the best available techniques and technical characteristics of the facility, its geographic location and the local environmental conditions. According to the IPCC Directive, the Best Available Techniques (BATs) are those that are technologically relevant for each process due to their efficacy, commercially available and characterised in that they: