Dry Slag Granulation: A Path to Improving the Safety and Sustainability of the Metallurgical Sector
Slag dumping and water granulation are the most commonly used slag treatment methods in the metallurgical industries. In both processes, water is present (by desire for cooling and dispersion or as a result of rain accumulation) and thus equipment and operations are designed to minimize and mitigate the risk of steam explosions resulting from the inappropriate contact of slag with water. Slag handling practices have, therefore, never been inherently safe; even good design, operation, and maintenance are not sufficient to prevent explosions or other related injuries from occurring. For slag handling to become inherently safe, our industry must eliminate the potential contact of water with molten slag. This is today feasible with the advent of dry granulation technologies, a review of which is presented, and it thus falls to us, in the metallurgical sector, to lead the way in their final stages of development and adoption. Furthermore, while slag dumping and water granulation offer some metallurgists the means of valorizing their slag as a by-product, for most, this is not the case. The energy in slag is lost through dumping and water granulation processes, and where slag is sold as a by-product, it is for its chemical content only. Here, dry granulation processes also offer advantages including the production of by-products which hold value in both their chemical content and physical properties and heat recovery. Dry granulation, therefore, augments the methods by which slag may be valorized over traditional processing methods.