Two-way Valorization of Blast Furnace Slag: Synthesis of Precipitated Calcium Carbonate and Zeolitic Heavy Metal Adsorbent
The aim of this work is to present a zero-waste process for storing CO2 in a stable and benign mineral form while producing zeolitic minerals with sufficient heavy metal adsorption capacity. To this end, blast furnace slag, a residue from iron-making, is utilized as the starting material. Calcium is selectively extracted from the slag by leaching with acetic acid (2 M CH3COOH) as the extraction agent. The filtered leachate is subsequently physico-chemically purified and then carbonated to form precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) of high purity (<2 wt% non-calcium impurities, according to ICP-MS analysis). Sodium hydroxide is added to neutralize the regenerated acetate. The morphological properties of the resulting calcitic PCC are tuned for its potential application as a filler in papermaking. In parallel, the residual solids from the extraction stage are subjected to hydrothermal conversion in a caustic solution (2 M NaOH) that leads to the predominant formation of a particular zeolitic mineral phase (detected by XRD), namely analcime (NaAlSi2O6∙H2O). Based on its ability to adsorb Ni2+, as reported from batch adsorption experiments and ICP-OES analysis, this product can potentially be used in wastewater treatment or for environmental remediation applications.