We recycle hazardous electric arc furnace dust and convert it into a valuable commodity. But that’s an easy way to talk about a complex process.
The Origin of Electric Arc Furnace Dust
Melting scrap steel in electric arc furnaces (EAF) produces EAF dust, a hazardous waste byproduct. In the past, steel producers disposed of EAF dust in hazardous waste landfills.
EAF dust contains valuable non-ferrous metals, especially zinc, nickel and iron. It also contains smaller amounts of lead, chromium and cadmium which can be harmful to human health and the environment.
At our four recycling facilities, EAF dust is recycled and valuable metals are reclaimed for downstream use in a variety of markets.
EAF dust is shipped to one of our four Waelz kiln recycling facilities, where valuable metals are reclaimed as Waelz Oxide product, more commonly known as WOX.
At our recycling facilities, EAF dust is fed along with coke or coal into a Waelz kiln, which is a large, rotating metal tube. In the kiln the EAF dust is tumbled and heated to a temperature where certain non-ferrous metals are vaporized. Air is drawn through the kiln and the metal vapors are oxidized to form solid metal oxide particulates which, once collected, is WOX. Air from the kiln passes through a product collector where the WOX is gathered. WOX is a light gray metal oxide powder, that contains 60% zinc oxide. Other metal oxides recovered in WOX include lead oxides, cadmium oxides, and chromium oxides.
The remaining portion of EAF dust that exits the kiln is Iron-Rich Material, referred to as IRM. IRM contains 40% iron oxide and other minerals, and once tested to ensure hazardous metals have been removed, can be sold to asphalt, cement, or aggregate companies, and it can even go back into the steel production process.
WOX is a product that is shipped to the company-owned American Zinc Products facility, or it can be sold to other zinc metal producers as feedstock for zinc metal production.
Zinc Metal Production
WOX shipped to our zinc refining facility, American Zinc Products in Rutherford County, North Carolina, enters a state-of-the-art solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX/EW) process. Through this proprietary SX/EW technology, zinc metal is produced that is 99.995% pure. Our facility is one of only four facilities in the world using the SX/EW technology.
Other metal bearing products produced at the American Zinc Products facility are sold as feedstock to metal production facilities.
Zinc Metal Distribution
Finished zinc metal product is sold to manufacturers and other third-party producers. From there, our zinc is used to make hundreds of items that can be used every day, including galvanized steel, automobile parts, health and beauty products, and more.
Our recycling facilities provide the highest quality EAF dust recycling services, through which we produce the following products:
Special High Grade Zinc
We produce high purity zinc slabs and ASTM jumbos for a variety of uses. The slabs use a unique interlocking design for sturdy bundle integrity in transit. All slabs conform to LME standards. For full chemical composition and other specifications, download our product spec sheet.