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01.28.2013

The improve of sustainability in steel dust recycling processes has winned an award in the XIV edition of Euskoiker Awards

The award-winning work in the technology area has been carried out by the Sustainable Process Engineering group at the Industrial Engineering College of Bilbao (UPV/EHU), recognised as a high performance group by the Basque government.

The project, which focuses on developing sustainable processes, has been financed by BEFESA Steel R&D and the Christian Doppler Laboratory of the University of Leoben (Austria), which the company has closely liaised with at every stage of the project.

Its primary objective is to improve the steel dust recycling process, which produces a zinc product (zinc oxide) that has highly diverse applications depending on its quality. The project comprises two different tasks. The first is to improve the quality of the end product, removing the fluoride content, increasing its final value and enabling it to be used in metallic zinc production. The metal is reused in vehicle manufacturing, which produces much of the scrap material used in steel works, therefore completing the cycle.

The second task is to reduce the environmental impact of CO2 emissions, which is a greenhouse gas. The furnace that processes the steel dusts uses petroleum coke to reduce the metallic oxides. This project has studied the integral use of biomass to replace this fossil material with an equivalent substance, specifically through the use of tree prunings. The by-products from processing this biomass are a mixture of organic compounds called tar. A high-temperature catalytic treatment system has been proposed to use this tar and transform it into a gas with a high hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide content. These gases can be used in the furnace or for other purposes by separating these components after optimising the process to maximise how each one is obtained. One such example is hydrogen, which could be used to obtain electricity in fuel cells and employed in a fleet of industrial vehicles and/or forklifts.

The improve of sustainability in steel dust recycling processes has winned an award in the XIV edition of Euskoiker Awards