SEPTEMBER 2011
                                        

Army project recycles more than six million pounds of steel

The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) recently completed a project that resulted in recycling more than 6.5 million pounds of steel.

In September 2003, CMA began operating the Pine Bluff Ton Container Decontamination Facility at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas to decontaminate 4,307 ton containers (TC) stored at the arsenal. Although empty, the 1,600 lb. steel containers once held hazardous materials and required decontamination to eliminate residual chemical agent prior to recycling.

Initial efforts to decontaminate the TCs involved rinsing them; however, the residual chemical agent proved difficult to remove, so a new approach was needed.

When faced with producing an additional 660,000 gallons of hazardous liquid waste to rinse the containers, CMA personnel designed a magnetic induction heating process to decontaminate up to 10 containers simultaneously. Not only did this generate significantly less waste, but it also thoroughly decontaminated the TCs so they could be processed through a commercial recycling plant.

The 6.5 million pounds of steel recycled – enough to build 26 Statues of Liberty – supports the Army’s commitment to protect the environment, as well as CMA’s history of commitment to ridding the Nation of chemical weapons.

The process used an electrically energized copper coil, wrapped around the container, to generate a magnetic field that was absorbed by the iron in the container. This raised the temperature of the TC to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, where it was held for 60 minutes. Heating to 1,000 degrees destroys all chemical agents. The decontamination process also featured a carefully designed pollution abatement system to capture any residual material vented from the TCs.