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Environment issues and Cleaner

Technologies in Foundry Industry

Dr. J. Nagesh Kumar

Centre for Energy Environment and Productivity (CEEP)
Resource Flows in Cast Iron Foundry
Air pollution in Foundry
• Depends on metal type, the furnace type and the molding technology used
• Nonferrous foundries and steel foundries may produce hazardous waste
because of the lead, zinc, cadmium and other metal present in the waste.
• Cupola furnaces produce more air pollution than induction furnaces due to
coke use and sand castings produce more solid waste than permanent
molds because of the sand fines that cannot be reused.
• Cupola, reverberatory and electric arc furnaces may emit particulate matter,
carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, small
quantities of chloride and fluoride compounds, and metallic fumes from the
condensation of volatilised metal and metal oxides.
• Induction furnaces and crucible furnaces emit relatively small amounts of
particulate matter, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide
• Air emissions come from the binder systems used in mold making, the
vapors from metal melting and airborne sand used in the pouring and
shakeout steps.
• Pouring and cooling steps contribute about 16% of the total organic and
semi-volatile wastes from foundries
• Organic air emissions come largely from unreacted components of resins,
solvents and catalysts
Solid Waste in Foundry
• Solid waste makes up a large portion of the pollution from foundries. One-
quarter to one ton of solid waste per one ton of castings is expected
• The waste comes from sand, slag, emissions control dust and spent
• Molding and core sand make up 66-88% of the total waste from ferrous
• Green foundry sand is routinely reused. After the sand is removed from the
metal piece, it can easily be remolded. However, sand fines develop with
reuse. These particles are too small to be effective in molds and have to be
removed and often landfilled.
• Sand that is chemically bound to make cores or shell molds is more difficult
to reuse effectively and may be landfilled after a single use.
• Sand wastes from brass and bronze foundries pose further waste problems
as they are often hazardous. Lead, copper, nickel, and zinc may be found in
the sand in sufficient levels to require further treatment before disposal. If
metal levels are sufficent, recovery methods may be employed
• Finished metal pieces are often cleaned in abrasion cleaning systems. The
abrasive cleaners and the sand they remove from the metal pieces
contribute to solid waste. Grinding wheels and floor sweepings also add
solid waste. These wastes are collected and usually landfilled.
Emission Factors (particulates)
for Uncontrolled Furnaces
Emission Factors for Fugitive Particulates
from Grey Iron Foundries
Slag Wastes
• Slag waste is often very complex chemically and
contains a variety of contaminants from the scrap
• Common components include metal oxides, melted
refractories, sand, and coke ash (if coke is used).
• Fluxes may also be added to help remove the slag from
the furnace.
• Slag may be hazardous if it contains lead, cadmium, or
chromium from steel or nonferrous metals melting.
• Iron foundry slag may be highly reactive if calcium
carbide is used to desulfurize the iron.
• Special handling is required for highly reactive waste.
Cleaner Production
What is Cleaner Production & what are its

• Cleaner Production focuses on eliminating waste and

inefficiency at their source, rather than finding ‘end-of-
pipe’ solutions once the wastes have been generated.
• It involves rethinking conventional methods to achieve
‘smarter’ production processes and products to achieve
sustainable production.
• In adopting the Cleaner Production approach, try to
consider how wastes can be avoided in the first place
rather than focusing on how to manage or treat them
once they have been generated.
• Waste avoidance and reduction should be considered as
the first options.
• Once all avoidance and reduction options have been
eliminated, then options for on-site reuse and recycling
can be considered.
• Only as a last resort should treatment and disposal
options be considered.
Some cleaner production practices
• Beneficial reuse of industry byproducts, particularly sand, baghouse
dust and shotblast;
• On-site and off-site sand reclamation and reuse;
• Energy efficiency programs (eg. covering ladles, energy
management and production scheduling, ensuring equipment is
turned off when not in use, capturing waste heat from the furnaces
and heat treatment processes);
• Increasing on-site recovery and reuse of metals including shotblast,
machining fines and baghouse dust metals;
• Better segregation of shotblast from sand to increase reclamation;
• Conversion of baghouse dust to slag to reduce disposal costs or
increase beneficial reuse options;
• Regenerating machine cutting oils;
• Investigation of new resin systems;
• Changing energy sources (e.g. grid power to bagasse, propane to
natural gas, diesel to electricity); and
• Improving layout and housekeeping practices.
The Cleaner Production Hierarchy
Benefit 1: Saving money
• Cleaner Production can save money; money which would have
otherwise been spent on wasted resources, waste treatment,
disposal and compliance costs.
• Cleaner Production strategies typically cost less than treatment and
disposal (so called ‘end-of-pipe’) technologies.
• Complying with the emission limits established by government
through on-site treatment can be a significant cost; may require
specialist knowledge and attention, and generally provide no profit
for the organisation.
• Many strategies, such as general housekeeping and process
improvements can be implemented at low cost and can have
immediate benefits, up to 30% in some cases.
• Substantial process modifications or technology changes will require
capital investment, however numerous case studies demonstrate
that pay-back periods can be as little as months to 2 years.
Benefit 2: Preventing pollution
• Pollution prevention by reducing energy,
water and resource consumption and
minimising waste is at the core of Cleaner
• With the emphasis on reducing waste at
the source rather than controlling pollution
after it has been generated with ‘end-of-
the-pipe’ solutions, many pollution
problems can be eliminated.
Benefit 3: Complying with
environmental legislation
• Working toward Cleaner Production will greatly
assist in complying with stricter environmental
legislation, bringing the benefits of reduced
liability, reduced regulation, reduced monitoring
costs, potentially reduced licensing charges and
better control over your business.
• Environmental regulations and standards are
becoming tighter and more comprehensive and
this trend is expected to continue in the future.
Contents of a Cleaner Production Plan

1. Improving Housekeeping Practices

2. Selecting Alternative Inputs
3. Improving Metal Yields
4. Improving Energy Efficiency
5. Minimising Foundry By-products
6. Production Planning and Improvement.
A Typical Sand Casting Process
1. Improving Housekeeping
• Is the state of general housekeeping affecting the flow of work or
causing spills?
• Are materials and chemical supplies being stored appropriately to
minimise the risk of damage or waste?
• Can just-in-time purchasing practices be implemented to reduce the
cost of inventory management and avoid waste from out-of-date
materials (e.g. resins, catalysts and paints)?
• Can preventive maintenance be use to optimise the efficiency of
major equipment and ancillary systems (e.g. furnaces, natural gas
leaks etc.)?
• Can we improve staff training programs to increase awareness
about Cleaner Production or to provide skill that increase operator
• Can we provide incentives (financial and non-financial) to increase
participation in Cleaner Production?
• Workshop Tidiness
• Preventive Maintenance
– Compressed Air
– Fuel oil/N.Gas
– Water
• Inventory Control
• Staff Training
2. Selecting Alternative Inputs
• Can we work with scrap suppliers to improve the quality of the
charge material to avoid contamination?
• Can we alter the metals and alloys that we use to improve casting
• Can we improve our materials testing procedures to improve product
quality and reduce waste?
• Can we improve sand quality to improve the dimensional accuracy
of the cast?
• Can we change the type of binders and other additives to improve
cast quality, increase reuse options, improve environmental
performance etc?
• Can we change the type of refractory material used in the process?
• Can we change from solvent based coating systems to water-based
• Can we alter the pattern or die materials to improve process
• Are there any new consumables (e.g. risers, sleeves etc.) that will
improve casting efficiency?
• Can we change the type of energy used in the process to improve
efficiency and environmental performance (e.g. natural gas etc.)?
• Alternative Mould Coatings
• Replacing solvent (alcohol, acetone and trichloroethylene) paints
with non solvent paints
– Water-based systems
• Water-based Shell for Investment Casting
– solvent-based shell mould systems to acrylic systems
• Improved Pattern Materials
• electroless nickel coatings on shell mould patterns
– are reported to improve surface quality and increase the life of the
pattern by 250–300%.
• Improved Riser Materials
– Non-fibrous, non-sand-based sleeves are reported to provide greater
dimensional accuracy and strength, low gas evolution and more uniform
insulating or exothermic properties
• Alternative Energy Sources
• Oil by natural gas where available
3. Improving Metal Yields
• How many tonnes of metal do we melt for each tonne of
usable castings?
• What are the major areas of loss (e.g. melt losses, spilt
metal, pigged metal, runners and risers, reject castings,
or grinding losses)?
• Can any of these areas of metal loss be reduced by:
– minimising metal spills, over- or under pours thorough precision
pouring techniques?
– redesigning the gating system to make it more efficient?
– using casting simulation technology to improve cast design and
solidification properties?
– working with our customers to redesign the casting to reduce it’s
weight or improve its casting characteristics?
– minimising grinding losses or even eliminate some fettling
operations from the foundry?
– using metal filtering, direct pouring techniques or other methods
to minimise inclusions in the metal?
• Can we redesign, optimise or change the casting
process used to increase the metal yield?
Typical yields
Excess metal
• Gating systems (i.e. runners, risers and sprues)
are often large, and sometimes larger than the
actual product cavity.
• Wall thicknesses are sometimes overspecified to
compensate for porosity and other metal quality
• The number of units produced is often over-
specified to compensate for reject products and
customer returns.
• All this means that, for every tonne of metal sold,
around 2 tonnes are melted
Disadvantages of excess metal
• energy used in melting and holding the metal;
• capital costs for unnecessary metal handling
• increased fettling costs;
• unnecessary metal collection and sorting time;
• increased maintenance of equipment;
• lost time that could be used for value adding
activities; and
• customer relations issues.
Metal Mass Balance of a Typical Foundry
4. Improving Energy Efficiency
• Have we undertaken a recent detailed assessment of energy efficiency in
the foundry?
• Can we benefit from implementing an energy monitoring program to
manage energy use for either the whole foundry or for major equipment
such as furnaces?
• Can we optimise the efficiency of our metal melting and holding processes
(e.g. · change technology, better insulation, use protective covers over the
melt; put a cover on the pouring ladle)?
• Can we optimise the efficiency of the ancillary services in the operation?
• Can we benefit from investing in automatic energy control systems to shut
down equipment when not in use?
• Can we develop greater staff awareness of energy efficiency and run an
effective ‘switch-off’ program?
• Can we improve the ladles and refractory materials used in the furnaces
and to improve energy efficiency?
• Can we recover energy from any sources for reuse elsewhere in the
• Can we benefit from investing in energy efficient equipment and up-grading
old equipment (e.g. lighting, ladle preheating, sand reclamation, furnaces
Typical Energy Demand — Iron
5. Minimising Foundry By-Products
• Have we calculated the full cost of by-products to the company
(including purchasing, processing, disposing and compliance
• Do we effectively segregate our by-product streams to improve
internal and external reuse options and reduce the cost of disposal?
• Do we have an effective strategy in place to minimise each major
waste stream?
• Can we improve the casting design process to minimise sand use
(e.g. better flask utilisation)?
• Are there other areas of the operation we can improve to minimise
sand waste (e.g. minimise spills)?
• Can we implement computer aided sand mixing systems to minimise
sand and binder use?
• Do we regularly investigate and trial new binder systems?
• Can we improve the efficiency of our sand reclamation system?
• Can we minimise other foundry by-products or reduce the demand
for consumables?
• Once by-products have been minimised as much as possible, are
there any beneficial reuse options that minimise the cost of
managing the material?
Breakdown of By-Product Streams in a
Typical Queensland Ferrous Foundry
Beneficial Reuse Options for
Foundry Byproducts
Beneficial Reuse Options for Foundry
Byproducts (contd.)
6. Production Planning and Improvement
• Do we have an effective Environmental Management System that is
integrated with our other business systems?
• Can we improve the layout or streamline the process to improve the
efficiency of the operation?
• Can we use production simulation technology to help redesign our
• Can we utilise any computer aided technologies in the foundry (e.g.
rapid prototyping, rapid tooling, casting simulation)?
• Can we benefit from undertaking a cost / benefit analyses of
different casting systems for part of all of the products or for new
markets (e.g. Investment, permanent mould, die, lost foam and
vacuum casting)?
• Can we develop a capability in another casting process for some of
our products (or for new markets)?
• Can we improve our communication systems (e.g. electronic data
interchange, the Internet) to reduce our lead times, increase the
efficiency of the process and offer better customer services?
• Can we improve scheduling and materials tracking systems?
• Can we develop / improve smart controls and sensors for automatic
• Can we use / improve computer aided design tools to integrate
concept design, prototyping, pattern making and moulding?