The World Bank

Foundries Industry - Pollution Prevention Guidelines


Courtesy of Courtesy of The World Bank


Pollution Prevention Guidelines to provide technical advice and guidance to staff and consultants involved in pollution-related projects. The guidelines represent state-of-the-art thinking on how to reduce pollution emissions from the production process. In many cases, the guidelines provide numerical targets for reducing pollution, as well as maximum emissions levels that are normally achievable through a combination of cleaner production and end-of-pipe treatment. The guidelines are designed to protect human health; reduce mass loadings to the environment; draw on commercially proven technologies; be cost-effective; follow current regulatory trends; and promote good industrial practices, which offer greater productivity and increased energy efficiency.

Table of Contents

  • Industry Description and Practices
  • Waste Characteristics
  • Pollution Prevention and Control
  • Target Pollution Loads
  • Treatment Technologies
  • Emissions Guidelines
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Key Issues
  • Sources

Industry Description and Practices

In foundries, molten metals are cast into objects of desired shapes. Castings of iron, steel, light metals (such as aluminum), and heavy metals (such as copper and zinc) are made in units that may be independent or part of a production line. Auto manufacturing facilities usually have foundries within their production facilities or as ancillaries. The main production steps include:

  • Preparation of raw materials
  • Metal melting
  • Preparation of molds
  • Casting
  • Finishing (which includes fettling and tumbling).

Electric induction furnaces are used to melt iron and other metals. However, large car-component foundries and some small foundries melt iron in gas or coke-fired cupola furnaces and use induction furnaces for aluminum components of engine blocks. Melting capacities of cupola furnaces generally range from 3 to 25 metric tons per hour (t/hr). Induction furnaces are also used in zinc, copper, and brass foundries. Electric arc furnaces are usually used in stainless steel and sometimes in copper foundries. Flame ovens, which burn fossil fuels, are often used for melting nonferrous metals. The casting process usually employs nonreusable molds of green sand, which consists of sand, soot, and clay (or water glass). The sand in each half of the mold is packed around a model, which is then removed. The two halves of the mold are joined, and the complete mold is filled with molten metal, using ladles or other pouring devices. Large foundries often have pouring furnaces with automatically controlled pouring. The mold contains channels for introducing and distributing the metal—a “gating system.” For hollow casting, the mold is fitted with a core. Cores must be extremely durable, and so strong bonding agents are used for the core, as well as for the molds themselves. These bonding agents are usually organic resins, but inorganic ones are also used. Plastic binders are being used for the manufacture of high-quality products. Sand cores and chemically bonded sand molds are often treated with water-based or spirit-based blacking to improve surface characteristics.

Aluminum and magnesium, as well as copper and zinc alloys, are frequently die-cast or gravity-cast in reusable steel molds. Die casting involves the injection of metal under high pressure by a plunger into a steel die. Centrifugal casting methods are used for pipes. Finishing processes such as fettling involves the removal from the casting of the gating system, fins (burrs), and sometimes feeders. This is accomplished by cutting, blasting, grinding, and chiseling. Small items are usually ground by tumbling, carried out in a rotating or vibrating drum, usually with the addition of water, which may have surfactants added to it.

Waste Characteristics

Emissions of particulate matter (PM) from the melting and treatment of molten metal, as well as from mold manufacture, shakeout, cleaning and after-treatment, is generally of greatest concern. PM may contain metals that may be toxic. Oil mists are released from the lubrication of metals. Odor and alcohol vapor (from surface treatment of alcohol-based blacking) and emissions of other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also of concern. Care must be exercised when handling halogenated organics, in cluding aluminum scrap contaminated with chlorinated organics, polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
scrap and turnings with chlorinated cutting oil, as dioxins may be emitted during melting operations.

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