OSWER  Innovations
                            Industrial Phosphate Sludge  Waste
                            as a  Raw Material for Iron
                            Phosphate Glass
The Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) initiated a series of innovative pilots to test new ideas
and strategies for environmental and public health protection to make OSWER programs more efficient, effective,
and user-friendly. A small amount of money is set aside to fund creative proposals.  The creative projects test
approaches to waste minimization, energy recovery, recycling, land revitalization, and homeland security that may
be replicated across various sectors, industries, communities, and regions. We hope these pilots will pave the way
for programmatic and policy recommendations by demonstrating  the environmental  and economic benefits of
creative, innovative approaches to the difficult environmental challenges we face today.

Every year,  the fabricated  metal products industry
generates phosphate sludge waste on the order of tens of
millions of pounds.  Automobile, heavy equipment,
appliance,   fastener,   and   other fabricated   metal
manufacturers generate waste sludge as a by-product of
the phosphate chemical conversion coating process that
is used to improve  paint  adhesion and corrosion
resistance of finished products. The majority of these
operations  are  related  to the treatment of  ferrous
substrates,  and  the resulting waste is non-hazardous
under U.S. EPA regulations.

No beneficial reuse market for phosphate waste sludge
currently exists.  However, recent collaborations between
the Illinois Waste Management and  Research  Center
(WMRC), the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR), and
Mo-Sci  Corporation  have  yielded  a   potential
commercial application for this waste. Preliminary work
indicates that phosphating wastes are an  ideal raw
material for producing iron phosphate glass. Research
also  shows  that iron phosphate  glass offers great
potential as  low energy alternatives to commercial
silica-based glass fibers.


U.S.  EPA Region 5, in partnership with WMRC, Mo-
Sci, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
will investigate  the feasability of using non-hazardous
industrial phosphate sludge waste as a raw material for
iron phosphate glass. WMRC will work with EPA, the
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), and
the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)
to identify regulations that affect the handling and
transportation  of non-hazardous industrial  phosphate
sludge wastes and explore qualitative and quantitative
issues relating to waste handling at each facility on a
case-by-case basis.

WMRC plans to obtain small-volume  sludge samples
from at  least ten  industrial sites within Illinois and
analyze  them  for  critical  iron   phosphate  glass
components, RCRA metals, and other elements that may
affect air emissions. WMRC will perform an extended
study with at least one facility to explore the variability
of sludge wastes. Mo-Sci  Corporation  will  process
approximately five sludge samples into glass. This step
will be important  from both regulatory and technical
perspectives because it will reinforce the preliminary
findings that the sludge is an ideal raw material in the
production of iron phosphate glass. Finally, WMRC will
estimate  the quantity of sludge waste that is readily
available  for  recycling  and  gauge the potential
environmental and economic benefits of recycling these
wastes. Promising applications for iron  phosphate
glasses include glass fibers for polymer  reinforced
composites, glass fiber reinforced concrete, and nuclear
waste vitrification  materials.


This project will be the first study of its kind to evaluate
the regulatory and commercial feasibility of capturing
the value of millions of pounds of industrial phosphate
sludge waste. Without this proj ect, it is unlikely that the
beneficial reuse of industrial phosphate  sludge would
ever occur. A number  of barriers and uncertainties
prevent this material from being commercially utilized.
These barriers and uncertainties are either directly or
indirectly related to environmental regulations.


The benefits of reusing  industrial phosphating sludge
extend from energy savings and reduced waste disposal
to providing a reduced cost, high quality raw material
for an important glass technology. Iron phosphate glass
fibers can be produced at a savings of over 6,500,000
Btu  per ton, compared  with commercial silica-based
glass fibers. Increased usage of iron phosphate glass
would also result  in reduced  worker exposure to
hazardous silica dust.  Each year, millions of pounds of
solid waste could be diverted for a beneficial reuse. A
potentially low-cost  raw  material  could  be  made
available  for  nuclear waste  vitrification  materials,
alkaline resistant glass fibers in structural cement, and
reinforced  polymer  composites  (i.e., fiberglass).
Additionally, companies that generate the sludge waste
could realize significant cost savings due to reduced
waste disposal.


Jason Swift, EPA Region 5, 312-886-0754

For  additional information, visit the EPA OSWER
Innovations web site at: www.epa.gov/oswer/IWG.htm.
                                                            Solid Waste             EPA 500-F-03-008
                                                            and Emergency          April 2003
                                                            Response (5101T)       vwwv.epa.gov/oswer/