Chemical monitoring and waste minimisation audit in the electroplating industry.
Ghebregziabher, Kiflemariam Tesfamariam.
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Theoretical waste minimisation opportunities and options for electroplating were sought from the literature. Their suitability under the specific site conditions of a chromium electroplating plant were evaluated using the results of a waste minimisation audit (audit). The audit showed that many waste minimisation practices were already in place. These included counter current flowing rinse systems, multiple use of rinses and recycling of the drag-out solution back into the plating solution. Two types of information were collected during the audit, namely new chemical monitoring (concentration levels of sodium, iron, zinc, copper, lead, chromium and nickel and conductivity, total dissolved solids and pH) and flow rate data and existing data (composition of the process solutions, products and waste outputs, and raw materials, workpieces and utility inputs). The data were analysed using four established waste minimisation techniques. The Scoping Audit and the Water Economy Assessment results were determined using empirically derived models while the Mass Balancing and the True Cost of Waste results were obtained through more detailed calculations. The results of the audit showed that the three most important areas for waste minimisation were water usage, effluent from rinse water waste streams and nickel consumption. Water usage has the highest waste minimisation potential followed by nickel. Dragged-out process chemicals and rinse water consumption contribute to ranking the effluent stream the most important waste minimisation opportunity identified by the True Cost of Waste Analysis. Potential financial savings were roughly estimated to be in the order of R 19949 and R 126603 for water and nickel respectively. Intervention using only "low cost-no-cost" waste minimisation measures was recommended as a first step before contemplating further focus areas or technical or economical feasibility.