Measuring and managing dust and nanoparticulates in pyrometallurgical processing

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Department of Chemical Engineering


Combustion processes, comminution and materials handling can generate airborne particulates. Regulation of these particulates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is becoming progressively more stringent, and regulations will soon include "nanoparticulates," which are particles finer than 100 nanometers (0.1 μ). Nanoparticulates are believed to have significant negative health effects due to their high surface area and reactivity. Although it was argued that nanoparticulate concerns were only important for combustion, studies at Michigan Technological University have shown that materials handling and comminution release significant quantities of nanoparticles into the air. Laboratory studies have shown that the use of sodium metasilicate reduced airborne particles finer than 10 μm (PM10) by 86% and particles finer than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) by 80% for iron ore. Additional studies were conducted that revealed that nanoparticulate emissions were present in the types of operations conducted at pyrometallurgical facilities.

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Minerals and Metallurgical Processing