Experimental Evaluation of Pyromettalurgical Processes for Lead Removal from Brass

Additonal authors: Homm, G.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Hilgendorf, S.

Due to recent regulations limiting tolerated lead concentrations in copper alloys, new recycling strategies have to be considered. This study investigates the suitability of technical approaches in order to recycle leaded copper alloys exemplified by CuZn39Pb2 and produce an alloy in compliance with future lead regulations in the European Union. Three pyrometallurgical methods are considered to achieve this goal, namely vacuum distillation, intermetallic precipitation and fractional crystallisation. The impact of essential process parameters i.e. pressure, temperature, time, atmosphere and quantity of additives are identified using thermochemical and kinetic modelling. An experimental implementation reveals a general suitability of all three refining processes. However, the individual efficiency of the different methods strongly differs. Thus, a detailed assessment is carried out in order to provide an evaluation on the efficiencies of these methods from a technological, economical and environmental point of view. Taking a possible industrial realisation into account, the authors recommend the approach of vacuum distillation, although the energy demanded is comparatively high due to the enthalpy of evaporation for zinc, or rather, lead. However, required lead concentrations can be reached quickly without introducing an external element to the material. The prediction of selectivity and evaporation speed, which are immanent variables for a successful implementation, can be validated experimentally. INTRODUCTION In 2016 approximately 1 million tonnes of leaded copper alloy semi-finished goods with an average lead content of 2.1 Ma% have been produced in the European Union (EU). The global production in the same period exceeded 5.5 million tonnes, while the lead concentration has stayed constant at around 2.4 Ma% for the last 50 years. Up to 80 % of the current production volume is covered with end-of-life scraps, which are used for direct re-melting, depending on the alloy composition. Lead has been a popular alloying element in copper alloys in general, and in particular in brass due to its positive impact on various mechanical, physical and chemical properties, especially machinability. Health and environmental concerns were drivers for many governments to implement limitations on lead. In order to further utilise the resource potential of leaded copper scrap, it is inevitable to develop methods to efficiently eliminate lead from circulation as far as possible. (Glöser, Soulier, & Tercero Espinoza, 2013; Soulier, Glöser-Chahoud, Goldmann & Tercero Espinoza, 2018)
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019