Production of Iron Nuggets from the Akpafu-Todzi Iron Ore and Artisanal Ferrous Slag using Post Consumer Thermosets (Waste Electrical Sockets) as Reductants
Post-consumer thermosets are difficult to recycle because, unlike thermoplastics, they cannot be remoulded to create other items as a result of the extensive cross-linkages in their structure. The increased production of thermoset blends and composites in recent years has greatly increased the amount of waste materials. However, higher levels of carbon and hydrogen present in thermosets make them a potential reductant in the iron extractive industries. In this research work, postconsumer thermoset was transformed into carbon resource through a charring process. The resulting carbonaceous material from the thermoset was used as reductant in the production of metallic iron from the Akpafu-Todzi iron ore and artisanal slag using the microwave technology through the composite pellet approach at varying firing times. Analyses by XRF, XRD and SEM/EDS showed that the Akpafu Todzi iron ore is comprised of the iron oxides hematite (Fe2O3) and wustite (Fe0.942O), while the artisanal slag was predominantly fayalite (Fe2SiO4). Complete reduction of the ore was attained after 120 min reduction but the maximum extent of reduction was 78.84% for the slag, demonstrating the potential of postconsumer thermosets to function effectively as a reductant in the iron extractive industry.