It Was Figured Out How To Dispose of Metallurgical Slag (Material Science)

Researchers at Ural Federal University (UrFU) and the Institute of Metallurgy of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (UrB RAS) have developed and successfully tested technology for waste-free processing of slag (electric arc and ladle). This technology helps obtain valuable materials, cast iron, Portland cement clinker. The main thing is that it helps to eliminate the problem of environmental pollution by industrial enterprises. An article describing the technology was published in the journal Steel in Translation.

“Our technology allows completely dispose of the two types of slags. It helps to solve the problem of anthropogenic pressure on the environment,” said Oleg Sheshukov, Chief Researcher at UrFU and RAS, head of the scientific group. “It is especially important that we achieved complete processing of the out-of-furnace slag. Since it contains very little iron, such slag is usually not reused, but sent to waste dumps, constantly increasing the damage to the environment.”

Technology development and testing consist of several stages. Most often, ladle slag is a dust fraction that is unsuitable for use in processing processes. Therefore, first of all, scientists stabilized the ladle slag in a solid-state. For this, borate glass was added to it – a cheap waste material that also requires recycling.

The clinker obtaining from ladle slag is a more complex technological task than the pig iron obtaining from an electric furnace. Therefore, the researchers first calculated the conditions necessary for the production of clinker. These are the chemical composition of the processed mixture (charge) and the temperature range. Then, with the help of crushing and mixing, they obtained a charge with admixtures of silicon and aluminum-containing minerals alite, belite, celite, and brownmillerite. At the laboratory, the briquetted charge was heated in a furnace up to 1500-1600 degrees Celsius, until it completely melted, kept, and then slowly cooled. The experiments made it possible to find out that the clinker, in terms of the quality corresponding to state standard, is formed from five slag compositions at a 10-minute exposure at a temperature of 1540-1560 degrees Celsius.

At the next stage, at the Seversky Pipe Plant (Russia), researchers selected samples of waste from the electric furnace production that were similar in structure. These samples contain a high iron content. As a result of several laboratory melts – using coke as a carbonaceous reductant of iron simultaneously with Portland cement clinker – the scientists obtained cast iron, which also satisfies the requirements of state standard. At the same time, all raw materials were processed into commercial products.

The technology of joint waste-free production of pig iron and Portland cement clinker was successfully tested at the production of the Klyuchevskoy Ferroalloy Plant (Russia). In the course of test heats, the developers came to the conclusion that in order to avoid overheating and in order to control temperatures and save money, a cheaper rotary tilt furnace should be used, not an arc furnace. Clinker is formed from the charge, which was fed into the rotary tilting furnace, as a result of mixing, reduction, and melting, cast iron, and slag residue. Subsequent mixing of clinker with gypsum dihydrate and firing the mixture in a kiln resulted in the formation of Portland cement, the most widely used type of cement.

Industrial enterprises of Russia and Kazakhstan are interested in the technology, the developers say.

Note

One of the most important problems of metallurgical enterprises around the world is the disposal of production wastes, among which the main share falls on metallurgical slag which appeared during metal smelting. Billions of tons of slags from ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy fill vast areas. According to scientists, the volume of slag dumps throughout the planet is annually increasing by 200-300 million tons.

Dumps pollute the environment and worsen the ecological situation. For example, ladle slag is a toxic, fine-grained dust-like powder that easily flies over long distances and then dissolves in sedimentary and groundwater. At the same time, ferrous metallurgy slags, mainly electric furnaces, contain up to 10% metallic and about 30% oxide iron, as well as magnesium, aluminum, silicon, phosphorus, calcium, and lime. Recycling and re-using slags in production will help not only reduce environmental impact but also contribute to solving the problem of depletion of mineral resources.

Featured image: According to Oleg Sheshukov, the technology allows for the complete utilization of two types of slags. © UrFU


Reference: Sheshukov, O.Y., Egiazar’yan, D.K. & Lobanov, D.A. Wasteless Joint Processing of Ladle Furnace and Electric Arc Furnace Slags. Steel Transl. 51, 156–162 (2021). https://doi.org/10.3103/S0967091221030116


Provided by Ural Federal University

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