Recycling Waste Polyurethane as a Carbon Resource in Ironmaking
Globally, major avenues available for dealing with waste Poly-Urethane (PU) are disposal at landfill sites and incineration. However, PU contains high levels of carbon and hydrogen that can be recovered for use as reductant in metal extraction processes. In this work the use of post-consumer PU as reductant for the production of metallic iron from iron oxide was investigated in a horizontal tube furnace through the composite pellet approach. Composite pellets were formed from mixtures of iron oxide and post-consumer PU. The iron oxide-PU composites were heated from room temperature to 1200 °C and then between 1200-1600 °C in a continuous stream of pure argon and the off gas was analysed continuously using an infrared (IR) gas analyser. Elemental analyses of samples of the reduced metal were performed chemically for its oxygen content using a LECO oxygen/nitrogen analyser. The extent of reduction was then determined at two temperatures 1200 °C and 1550 °C. Gas emission studies revealed the emission of large volumes of the reductant gas CO along with CO2. It is further demonstrated that post-consumer PU is effective at reducing iron oxide to produce metallic iron with complete reduction achieved in less than 4 min at 1550 °C.
Keywords: Polyurethane, Composite Pellets, Infrared gas Analyser, LECO Carbon/Sulphur Analyser