Höganäs joins DESULF project to reuse zinc-rich dust from its melting furnaces
The DESULF project aims to reduce the need for virgin zinc by operating circular flows for by-products that lead to zinc (Courtesy VTT).
Zinc-rich dust is a significant by-product of the Swedish Höganäs smelting furnace with limited potential for reuse. However, the metal powder maker says that may change now, having worked on an ongoing project with a leading research institute that is reported to have already found a solution with clear environmental benefits.
Höganäs has joined the DESULF project, coordinated by the Finnish technical research center VTT, which aims to reduce the need for virgin zinc. With the support of the EU consortium EIT Raw Materials, the project is to run until the end of 2022 and include partners from the metal industry and gas cleaning.
“At Höganäs, we process many different types of dust, which flow back into our processes or are sent for external metal recovery,” explains Björn Haase, Manager Non-Metal Products at Höganäs. “But we are always looking for new ways to increase the circularity of our dust-side flows and to reduce the use of virgin material in every possible way.”
On a small scale, the DESULF project has already shown that sidestreams containing zinc derived from steel production can be used to remove sulfur from gases almost as efficiently as current commercial zinc oxide products. The aim is to stimulate new business activities by upscaling the process to an industrial scale.
Haase continued: “It would mean that Höganäs material could help to reduce the environmental impact – not only by increasing the circularity of the zinc-rich dust bypass from his smelting furnace in Sweden, but also by reducing the need for new zinc and the Treatment of dust containing zinc as hazardous waste. “
Höganäs’ Swedish plant is currently sending its zinc-rich dust to a high-tech metal company, where the zinc is recovered and used to dilute virgin zinc. This company is also involved in the DESULF project and the close relationship between Höganäs and them will not change. It will just deliver the dust for another use before sending it for restoration. This agreement offers additional environmental benefits as it effectively doubles the use of this bypass and in turn helps reduce the need for zinc ore.
The DESULF project also recognizes that there is an increasing demand for this type of circular solution: in the future, Finland alone will need an estimated 5,000 tonnes of zinc oxide to purify synthetic gas that can be used to make renewable fuels and chemicals for transportation .
“VTT has already found a network of companies interested in zinc-rich dust by-products,” concluded Haase. “This is an important and exciting project that I am happy to be part of and I am very confident that it will be a success.”