The story of steel with PMC starts in 2011 with the initiators Nathalie van de Poel, Jan Henk Wijma and Bert Bult. They all have a background in the steel industry. Scrap was used to produce steel. The scrap on offer still contained a small amount of asbestos and could not be sufficiently cleaned. The alternative was to dispose of the trainsets in designated dumps. This is how the idea, to destroy asbestos and recycle steel by thermic heating in a hot heal of 1550 degrees Celsius, came about. From various scientific studies it becomes clear that all types of asbestos are being destroyed within fractions of seconds and are being converted into different components, basically silicon oxide, magnesium oxide and water. Components that are already present in the hot heal.
The initiators have adapted the process so that not only asbestos-contaminated steel can be recycled but other contaminants mixed with steel can be recycled as well. In 2014, Jansen Recycling Group from Dordrecht joined the 3 initiators and Purified Metal Company B.V. was founded.
The ensuing years have been something of an extensive voyage of discovery. To prove the concept, feasibility studies were carried out on an economic, technical and legal level. To this end, various leading partners are being sought who have come together over the years to form a strong consortium. The idea was successfully demonstrated in all areas and is economically feasible, so that funding started in early 2017. In July 2018, the funding was completed and the realisation phase of PMC started.
The processing procedure
A. Material handling
The contaminated steel scrap is loaded into standard disposal containers. The containers are then placed on the transport trolley and brought in via a lock. The container is transported to the storage bunker in the factory via two locks that are pressurised. An overhead crane feeds the scrap into a shear where it is cut and pressed. The material is then loaded into a loading vehicle.
B. Melting Area
The loading vehicle transports the steel scrap to two electric furnaces. The material is then slowly fed into a melting bath of more than 1500 degrees Celsius. During the melting process, contaminants are separated from the steel in a 100% safe manner. The asbestos fibre structure is completely destroyed and converted into the harmless components H2O, SiO2 and MgO. This harmless material floats like slag on the melt and is later removed. Other hazardous substances are collected or neutralised by the very advanced flue gas cleaning system.
Once the steel has completely melted, it is transported to the casting machine via special channels.
In order to determine the chemical composition of the melt, chemical analyses are made of the liquid melting bath
C. Casting Area
In the casting machine, a batch of 20 tons of liquid steel is transformed into Purified Metal Blocks. The PMBs are stored outside for sale to steel mills or foundries.
D. Flue gas cleaning
During smelting, the flue gases are continuously extracted via the flue gas duct and transported to the flue gas purification system. This system consists of a number of steps;
- Post-combustion, in which flammable components are burned at 1200 degrees Celsius. Any residual asbestos particles are then completely destroyed.
- Capture of NOx components with a so-called DeNoX installation.
- Very rapid cooling of the flue gases in order to be able to carry out the rest of the flue gas cleaning.
- Adding different additives in two steps to remove and capture (heavy) metals and other contaminants. The flat-bag filter ensures that the dust particles are captured.
This highly advanced flue gas cleaning system allows clean air to flow out of the chimney.
Purified Metal Company B.V. is a Dutch company with an international scope. Materials from (for example) Belgium and Germany will also be processed by this factory.
The international ambition of the founders is to prevent contaminated steel from ending up in landfills all over the world and to process it into a clean premium raw material. They intend to achieve this by establishing several factories worldwide.