Understanding environmental leachability of electric arc furnace dust

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Dust from production of steel in an electric arc furnace (EAF) contains a mixture of elements that pose a challenge for both recovery and disposal. This paper relates the leachability of six Canadian EAF dusts in four leaching tests [distilled water, Ontario Regulation 347 Leachate Extraction Procedure, Amount Available for Leaching (AALT), and pH 5 Stat] to their mineralogy. Chromium and nickel contaminants in EAF dust are largely unleachable (<5% available in AALT and pH 5 Stat), as they are found with the predominant spinel ferrite phase in EAF dust. However, even a small proportion of oxidized chromium can result in significant leachate concentrations of highly toxic chromate. The leachability of zinc (7-50% available), lead (2-17% available), and cadmium (9-55% available) can be significant, as large fractions of these contaminants are found as chlorides and oxides. The leaching of these metals is largely controlled by pH. The acid neutralization capacity of the EAF dusts appeared to be controlled by dissolution of lime and zincite, and results from regulatory leaching tests can be misleading because the variable acid neutralization capacity of EAF dusts can lead to very different final leachate pHs (5-12.4). A more informative approach would be to evaluate the total amounts of contaminants available in the long term, and the acid neutralization capacity.

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Journal of Environmental Engineering

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