United States Army base blasts with recycled
glass in UK
The United States Army has completed
a major maneuver by switching to environmentally friendly grit
blast media, made from recycled glass, at its Field Support Battalion
base near Southampton.
Glass grit, sourced from preprocessor
Krysteline, is being used to refurbish military equipment - including
land vehicles, generators and watercraft - at the site in Hythe
after the army switched from using traditional copper slag.
Grit blasting involves abrasive
particles being powered onto a surface using high pressure air
and is often the fastest and most thorough means of cleaning,
descaling, deburring and removing oxides or other surface contaminants.
The process is widely used in many industries, including aerospace,
construction and transport.
In addition to helping environmental
sustainability, recycled glass grit’s main benefits are
that it is non-toxic, inert and does not cause respiratory or
environmental problems. It contains negligible levels of chlorides
and salts that can corrode clean surfaces and its residue being
classed as a nuisance dust, rather than hazardous waste, means
disposal costs can be lower.
The introduction of U.S. HAZMAT
regulations, governing the use of hazardous materials, was another
factor in the unit reconsidering its choice of abrasive.
Colin Buchanan, paint supervisor
and HAZMAT officer at the U.S. Army Field Battalion, said, “The
unit has been particularly impressed that glass grit creates significantly
less dust during the blasting process, which had been a problem
for us in the past, and any it does generate is easily controlled.
“Another benefit we have
identified is that, in addition to complying with HAZMAT regulations,
the glass grit can be disposed of in a number of ways, without
presenting an environmental hazard. It has also proved more cost-effective
than many of the alternative materials we investigated.”
The eleven-acre army site offers
facilities tailored for the maintenance, overhaul and storage
of forward deployed combat equipment.
Many of the vehicles have suffered
significant war damage, making it necessary to strip back all
paint on the chassis and bodywork, to determine what metal damage
has been caused.
Once stripped to bare metal,
the parts are blasted with TruGrit recycled glass blast media
in preparation for repairs and re-painting, in the appropriate
camouflage colors, ready for release back into service.
Mr Buchanan said, “By sharing
the results of the tests here, we hope to encourage other army
sites across the world to consider switching to glass grit. The
benefits it offers in terms of cleanliness, ease of control, cost
effectiveness and environmental performance all add up to make
it an ideal product for blasting.”
At Hythe, two types of equipment
are used during the blasting process; a standard shot blast system
and a portable, lightweight blasting gun, which enables paint
to be stripped layer-by-layer. Currently the unit uses four tons
of medium grade (0.75 - 1.5mm) glass grit every week, at a pressure
of 200 PSI.
Bronnie Allen, materials development
manager (Glass) at WRAP, said: “Recycled glass grit has
been proved in the United States to achieve a suitable surface
profile on steel for paints and coatings. It has been used for
cleaning many different surfaces very successfully in this country
but, up to now, usually in environmentally sensitive locations,
such as near watercourses.”
Recycled glass is available manufactured
to BSI PAS 102 specifications, meaning buyers can procure material
confident it is fit for use.