This paper provides the results of studies on the characteristics of novel material derived from pyrolysis/melting treatment of municipal solid waste in Japan. Slag products from pyrolysis/melting plants were sampled for the purpose of detailed phase analysis and characterization of heavy metal-containing phases using optical microscopy, electron probe microanalysis (EPMA), XRF and XRD. The study revealed that the slag material contains glass (over 95%), oxide and silicate minerals (spinel, melilite, pseudowollastonite), as well as individual metallic inclusions as the major constituents. A distinct chemical diversity was discovered in the interstitial glass in terms of silica content defined as low and high silica glass end members. Elevated concentrations of Zn, Cr, Cu, Pb and Ba were recorded in the bulk composition. Cu, Pb and Ba behave as incompatible elements since they have been markedly characterized as part of polymetallic alloys and insignificantly sulfides in the form of spherical metallic inclusions associated with tracer amounts of other elements such as Sb, Sn, Ni, Zn, Al, P and Si. In contrast, an appreciable amount of Zn is retained by zinc-rich end members of spinel and partially by melilite and silica glass. Chromium exhibits similar behavior, and is considerably held by Cr-rich spinel. The intense incorporation of Zn and Cr into spinel indicates the very effective enrichment of these two elements into phases more environmentally resistant than glass. There was no evidence, however, that Cu and Pb enter into the structure of the crystalline silicates or oxides that may lead to their easier leachability upon exposure to the environment.
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