In modern society, there is a fast growth in the production of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE); however, rapid growth results in the frequent discarding of this equipment. During the treatment of discarded materials, a stream is generated that contains a high fraction of plastic materials, but also metals and oxides. This stream, which is called shredder residue material (SRM), is heterogeneous, which limits its recycling options. Utilizing this material in metallurgical processes allows the plastic fraction to be used as a reductant and energy source and the metallic fraction to be recycled and returned to the production of EEE. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of plastic-containing materials, especially SRM, as alternative reductants in metallurgical processes. The first step was to compare the thermal conversion characteristics of plastic-containing materials to the currently used reducing agent, i.e., coal. Three main candidates, polyurethane (PUR), polyethylene (PE), and SRM, were studied using a drop tube furnace and an optical single-particle burner. PE had the highest volatile content and the fastest conversion time, whereas PUR had the longest conversion time. Thereafter, plastic materials were tested at the industrial scale through injection to the zinc fuming process at the Boliden Rönnskär smelter. During the industrial trial, the amount of coal that was injected was reduced and substituted with plastic material. The results indicate the possibility of reducing the coal injection rate in favor of partial substitution with plastic materials.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited