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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » August 29, 2012
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Alternative Uses of Flue Dust
August 29, 2012   
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Flue dust from smelter gas generated by the iron and steel industry can be used to color and decorate household glassware, according to a team of researchers from the Katowice branch of the Warsaw-based Institute of Mechanized Construction and Rock Mining, who have developed a method to recycle flue dust with low zinc content.

The team is made up of Teresa Gulińska, Jacek Grabowski, Ireneusz Baic, Małgorzata Adamczyk and Zofia Stoch.

Flue dust is the result of removing impurities from waste gas emitted during sintering and from blast furnaces and Bessemer converters. Flue dust particles are extremely fine and contain a lot of heavy metals, zinc in particular. The content ranges between 3 and 18 percent. Flue dust with high zinc content is recycled in roll-down furnaces to recover the zinc, whereas certain properties of dust with low zinc content have earned it a variety of applications outside the iron and steel industry. The technology developed at the Institute of Mechanized Construction and Rock Mining introduces two new uses, which helps reduce the amount of low-zinc flue dust dumped as waste.

Baic, Ph.D, says the researchers have suggested two methods of using flue dust. The first method processes the dust into fine-grained material called frit. Flue dust with low zinc content is first mixed at specific proportions with blast-furnace slag with grains under 2 millimeters in size and 5 percent, by weight, of anhydrous sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). The mixture is then vitrified in a tank furnace at 1,300 degrees Celsius and rapidly cooled afterwards. The resulting fine-grained material has a high content of the so-called glass phase. In one of its applications, the product can be used as a substitute for sand in engineering and construction.

The other method to treat flue dust is to use it as a substitute for natural additives which give color to household glassware. Depending on how much flue dust is added to the raw products, the tint of the resulting glass ranges from light green to black. Flue dust can also be used to decorate semifinished products made of milk glass, for example. Such objects are first covered in flue dust or submersed in an aqueous emulsion containing the dust, then a second layer of transparent glass is applied and the product is molded into the desired shape and size. According to Baic, when flue dust is used as a coloring additive neither the production process nor the coloring and decorative techniques need to be altered.

The technology has won a number of awards, including a gold medal at the 59th Brussels-Innova International Exhibition of Inventions, Research and New Technology in November 2010, a bronze medal at the 110th Concours-Lepine International Exhibition of Inventions in May 2011, the Leader of Innovation 2011 title in Katowice in April 2011, and a gold medal at the sixth Intarg international innovation fair in Katowice in April 2011.
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