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Recycle Grinding Swarf Into An Asset

US Ecology's Total Waste Management (TWM) team delivers innovative waste solutions directed at producing cost savings, reducing environmental impact, and increasing efficiency for customers. The TWM team's ability to work with customers to engineer creative solutions to their environmental problems is demonstrated in a recent project with a major manufacturing customer.

US Ecology's customer produced 2,000 tons of grinding swarf per year, making grinding swarf its largest landfilled waste stream. This company asked US Ecology's TWM team to reduce its swarf landfilling. Working with the customer to identify and explore various possible solutions, the TWM team determined that by using a briquetting system, the plant could recapture its coolant and produce briquettes of the metal and abrasive. The briquettes, in turn, can be remelted in an electric arc furnace to make steel.

To make metal bearings, manufacturers cut thick walled pipe to the approximate size and then cut and grind the wire pieces to the final specifications. This process requires cooling the grinding surface, heated by friction, and the coolant washes the ground bits of metal and abrasive out of the system. The coolant is filtered and recycled and the filter cake is grinding swarf.

To verify the grinding swarf recycling concept, US Ecology purchased a briquetter and ran a trial on 1/3 of the swarf produced for one year. The trial system proved the business case to expand, and the full system began operations in fall 2013, recycling all grinding swarf produced at the plant. Through recovering the swarf components for reuse, conserving the raw materials and eliminating the cost of landfilling the swarf, US Ecology turned our client's six-figure cost to dispose of the swarf into a six-figure return.


*This project was completed by EQ-The Environmental Quality Company prior to its purchase by US Ecology.

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