Final Report: Recovery of Catalyst Vapors From Foundry Cold Box Core Machines

EPA Contract Number: 68D00277
Title: Recovery of Catalyst Vapors From Foundry Cold Box Core Machines
Investigators: Wijmans, J. (Hans) G.
Small Business: Membrane Technology and Research Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through September 1, 2002
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2000) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , SBIR - Air Pollution , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Metal casting operations in foundries produce air streams containing 0.05–2 vol% of various catalyst vapors. The source of these streams, which are produced at more than 3,000 U.S. foundries, is the exhaust from cold box core machines. The streams are a serious pollution problem and represent a significant resource recovery opportunity. Current treatment options - scrubbing or incineration - are expensive and do not recover the catalyst for reuse. Membrane vapor separation technology has the potential to recover the catalyst vapor in sufficiently pure form for direct reuse in the cold box machine. The overall objective of this project was to develop such a process.

In the proposed process, the exhaust from the cold box is fed to a compressor, then to a membrane separation unit. The key technical issue addressed in this Phase II project was the development of a suitable membrane material for the membrane unit.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

In the Phase I project, Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. identified a perfluoro polymer as the most promising selective membrane material for the proposed foundry amine-recovery process. The Phase I performance data showed that a membrane treatment process was able to recover amine from the foundry cold box effluent stream for reuse. An analysis showed that the cost of the process was sufficiently low to be covered by the value of recovered and recycled amine. However, during the Phase II project, discussions with industry end-users revealed that the effluent stream contained significantly less amine than earlier calculations had assumed, so the recovery value would be significantly less. An attempt was made to reduce the cost of the membrane process by increasing the membrane flux. This was successful, and membranes were made with fluxes 10 times higher than those of the Phase I membranes and with equivalent selectivities. However, even with these new membranes, the process costs could not be reduced sufficiently to make amine recovery and recycle competitive with absorption and incineration technologies. The Phase II development program was terminated at this point.


The experimental work demonstrates the technical feasibility of a membrane process to recover amine vapors from foundry cold box core exhaust streams. However, the value of recovered amine is insufficient to cover the cost of this recovery-recycle process. The proposed technology cannot economically compete with absorption or incineration processes.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, pollution prevention, chemistry, foundries, cold box, air emissions, catalyst recovery, membranes, exhaust., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Sustainable Industry/Business, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Chemistry, Technology for Sustainable Environment, New/Innovative technologies, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, recovery, catalysts, metal casting, catalyst formulations, catalyst vapors, resource recovery, cold box core machines

SBIR Phase I:

Recovery of Catalyst Vapors From Foundry Cold Box Core Machines  | Final Report