international: Ash Researchers Turn To Glass In France

Still trying to figure out what to do with your fly ash? In France, several research programs are analyzing virtrification as a possible solution.

Incineration of one metric ton of French domestic or hospital waste leaves between 440 to 660 pounds of clinker and between 66 to 110 pounds of fly ash. Clinker, although bulky, is inoffensive and may be used as filling material on engineering sites. Fly ash, on the other hand, can be rich in heavy metal particles and, thus, dangerous to public health. So, this material must be placed in controlled landfills to prevent aquifer pollution.

Storage, however, is an expensive procedure, costing up to $600 per metric ton. France alone produces 400,000 metric tons of fly ash annually, which makes for an expensive and space consuming problem.

French incineration plant operators are not satisfied with this solution. "We are looking to vitrify fly ash in order to make it inert and inoffensive," explains Alain Damien, research engineer at TIRU, a company that runs several incineration plants in the Paris area. "We will thereby be able to use ash as an ordinary filling material for our own benefit and for that of the environment." The treatment consists in heating the fly ash to a high temperature, resulting in a product that looks like hard rock, basalt or glass.

The vitrified material takes up one-sixth the volume of the initial ash quantity. A-bove all, it is stable over the long term, and the heavy metals (zinc, mercury or lead) trapped inside are not harmful to the environment.

Nevertheless, since vitrification requires further in-depth research, several competing research and de-velop-ment programs are underway.

Early this year, a fly ash vitrification plant came on line near Bordeaux, in southwestern France. Designed by Bordeaux's Europlasma, the plant has the capacity to treat 3,500 metric tons of fly ash per year at a cost of $4 million. The facility is located in the city's main incineration plant, which annually treats 120,000 metric tons of domestic waste.

"To start with, we're looking at total vitrification costs of around $500 per metric ton of fly ash," explains Didier Pineau, Europlasma's manager. "In the long term, the treatment cost per metric ton should be just $300." In this case, the treatment involves melting the ash with a plasma torch. Sometimes referred to as the "fourth state of matter," plasma is a gas ionized by high temperatures which, in turn, accelerates certain chemical reactions, among them vitrification.

A plasma torch heats waste to more than 7,200 degrees F by ionized gas via an arc and is comprised of two tubular electrodes in a gas injection cham- ber.

Initial tests re-sults proved to be sufficiently decisive for incineration plant operators to start industrial-scale operations im-mediately.

Electricite de France (EDF), the French electricity board, is working with a more conservative method at its Paris research center. In 1993, EDF research scientists produced an experimental unit that could treat 660 pounds of cinders per hour. Several metric tons of ash already have been vitrified using this system.

The installation consists of a tilting furnace similar to that used by glassworkers; the difference is that instead of being gas powered, it has an electric arc burner fitted with graphite electrodes. "We consider this technique to be less costly than the plasma torch," says Denis Le Boulch, who heads the research program. "It also is flexible and easy to use."

The ash is placed in the furnace using an Archimedean screw and heated to 2,600 degrees F. The vitrified end product is either amorphous and glass-like or has a crystalline structure similar to basalt.

EDF is continuing its experiments while preparing to sell the license for its process to an industrial firm. Glassworkers are interested in it, as are manufacturers of incineration furnaces and boilers.

A number of French industrial firms including TIRU, Air Liquide, STMI, a waste treatment company, and Gaz de France, a gas distributor, have joined forces with the Technological University of Compiegne, located north of Paris, to conduct a vitrification program that uses an oxygen burner.

Producing only small quantities of sulfurous pollutants, nitrogen oxides and fumes, the installation is compact and economic. The use of oxygen makes it possible to reach temperatures of more than 2,900 degrees F during treatment.

This program's main distinguishing feature lies in the use of foam to convey the ash to the furnace flame. "The foam contributes to the dispersion of ash in the furnace and thereby increases the efficiency of heavy metal carbonization in gas or dust form," explains Christiane Linard, a Gaz de France engineer.

This process turns out a vitrified product that traps all heavy metals. Using other operating parameters, it also is possible to obtain a vitrified product containing no metal salts or metal oxides at the furnace's bottom. These salts and oxides settle on a filter during cooling and can be recycled in zinc or lead metallurgy.

For more information, contact: Alicia Ronan, French Technology Press Office, One East Wacker Drive, Suite 3740, Chicago, Ill. 60601. (312) 222-1235. Fax: (312) 222-1237

Acquisitions Enviro-Services & Constructors Inc., Melville, N.Y., has purchased substantially all of the assets of Waste Management Inc.'s (Oak Brook, Ill.) RRT Design & Construction Corp. recycling unit. All business activities of RRT will continue including the construction of a blue bag/MSW co-collected MRF in St. Peters, Mo.; renovation and expansion of the Johnston, R.I., MRF; construction of a new single-stream MRF in Phoenix; construction of a C&D facility in Troutdale, Ore.; and construction of a compost feedstock preparation plant in Sumter, Fla.

Eaton Corp., Kalamazo, Mich., has signed an agreement to purchase Dana Corp.'s (Toledo, Ohio) worldwide clutch business for $180 million, while Dana will purchase Eaton's worldwide axle and brake business, including Eaton's forging operation in Marion, Ohio, for $287 million.

Canadian Waste Services Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of USA Waste Services (Houston), has acquired one landfill, 13 collection operations and three transfer stations providing more than 80,000 customers in the provinces of Albert, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec from Waste Management Inc. (Oak Brook, Ill.) for $180 million .

City Carton Co. (Iowa City, Iowa) has purchased the operations and assets of Waste Management Inc.'s (Oak Brook, Ill.) Midwest Division of Durbin Paper Stock, Rock Island, Ill. This newly acquired recycling facility will serve Durbin's more than 300 recycling customers.

Agreement Leach Co., Oshkosh, Wis., and Wagon Engineering, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, signed a license and technical assistance agreement under which Wagon will produce and market the Leach 2RII rear loading refuse collection body at Wagon's new Kuala Lumpur manufacturing facility.

Award The Long Island Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers has presented its 1997 Quality of Life Award to the Town of North Hempstead for its newly completed, 1,200 tons-per-day solid waste transfer facility. The new complex features a two-lane drive through tunnel for high speed load out operations and provides for C&D, yard waste and curbside collected recyclabes transfer operations.

Consolidation Superior Services (West Allis, Wis.) has merged its former Lake and Northwest Regions to create the Midwest Region in an effort to streamline the company. The newly created region will be managed by Gary Blacktopp and includes Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri .

Contracts Waste Management Inc. (Oak Brook, Ill.) has been awarded a three-year contract to transfer and dispose of 1,750 tons per day of municipal residential waste from the Borough of the Bronx in New York City.

Denver-based Geraghty & Miller Inc., an international environmental and infrastructure firm, has been awarded a contract to provide environmental engineering services including remediation services, compliance monitoring and engineering design.for U.S. Coast Guard facilities I

Fiscal American Disposal Services Inc. (Burr Ridge, Ill.) has closed on a larger credit facility with its bank group increasing the committed amount from $125 million to $200 million. The amended facility will reduce the company's borrowing costs and increase its financial flexibility.

Grant The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance has awarded the City of Hutchinson, Minn., $100,000 to implement its plan to convert the existing NaturTech (St. Cloud, Minn.) containerized composting system from processing wastewater treatment biosolids to treating source separated organics from businesses, schools and residents.

New Distributor Hi-Rise Recycling Systems Inc. (New York City) has signed an agreement with Ecolo Odor Control Systems (Ontario, Canada) for the right to private label its odor control dispensing system in multistory buildings as Wilkinson Odor Control in the United States.

People Presona Inc. (Waco, Texas), a manufacturer of single-ram balers, has named Michael W. Lockman as its new president. Lockman will manage all aspects of the company's U.S. operations.

Ford/Freightliner Sale Trucks On PORTLAND, ORE.- Following the expiration of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act waiting period, the historic transfer of Ford Motor Company's heavy truck business to Freightliner Corp., Portland, Ore., is once again moving forward, says James Hebe, Freightliner president and CEO. Approval for the acquisition also was obtained in Canada.

The two companies signed definitive agreements in May that enable Freightliner to buy Ford's technology, unique tooling and assembly line for Ford's heavy trucks.

The transaction includes the Louisville/AeroMax (HN80) trucks, Ford's service parts business and all remaining tooling for the predecessor Ford L-Series trucks and the Ford Cargo truck.

Freightliner's St. Thomas, Ontario, truck manufacturing facility will produce the HN80 series, Hebe confirms. The current manufacturing of the HN80 products at Ford's Louisville, Ky., truck plant will cease in December. The series' production in Ontario then will begin during the first quarter of 1998.

The new corporate office for the HN80 products will be located in Cleveland. The offices will include sales, marketing and custom engineering for the product line, and is expected to house approximately 100 employees.