Heavy metals

CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS PRESENT IN WASTE

What are they?

Heavy metals are chemical elements such as cadmium (Cd), thallium (Tl), mercury (Hg), antimony (Sb), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni) and vanadium (V).

These compounds are commonly present in waste, whether industrial, municipal, medical/hospital, etc.

Problems caused by heavy metals

In waste incineration plants, the waste itself may be formed of a large number of different elements, and will usually contain a certain amount of heavy metals. When the waste is incinerated at high temperatures, the metals can be converted into a gas phase during combustion.

In general, these metals are eliminated by first converting them into non-volatile oxides, which are then deposited in fly ash. Consequently, they are eliminated by using treatments for dust/particles, such as electrostatic precipitators, baghouse filters, cyclones, etc.

Which industrial sectors are affected?

The industrial sectors affected are mostly those that incinerate waste of any kind (e.g. medical/hospital, urban, industrial, radioactive, etc.).

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