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Chemical engineers develop circular economy for steel and iron in China

Signal of change / Chemical engineers develop circular economy for steel and iron in China

By Anna Simpson / 31 Mar 2017

Chemical engineers from Columbia University, New York, have established a partnership with the Chinese group Bautou Iron and Steel Co. to repurpose waste for use in a range of industries.

Columbia Engineering Lab designed a prototype unit to process waste slag for repurpose in various industries, including paper, plastic and cement. The chemical process draws on mineral carbonation and rock weathering. The engineers also hope to reduce its overall carbon emissions by using industrially emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) as one of the reactants.

A spinoff from the Lab, GreenOre CleanTech LLC, is now designing the first commercial pilot plant, planned to to be built in Inner Mongolia in 2017, for operation by mid-2018.

So what?

China manufactures half of the world’s iron and steel. The waste (or slag) that ends up in landfill or open stockpiles poses an environmental and health risk, due to toxic elements.

The researchers hope to be able to reach zero-waste for Baotou Steel, using as much of its slag as possible. This will reduce the risks posed by stockpiles, clean up landfills, and create valuable products for other industries.

Is China emerging as a circular economy pioneer?


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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