July 25, 2011
Initial efforts to decontaminate the TCs involved rinsing them; however, the residual chemical agent proved difficult to remove, so a new approach had to be found.
Enough steel to build 2,500 cars
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.
"CMA’s decades of expertise and success in eliminating chemical warfare materiel ranks the highest in the world," Mr. Spencer said. "This effort reinforces CMA’s commitment to protecting the environment and creating a safer tomorrow."
"It’s not every day that a single project achieves such high marks in waste reduction and recycling efforts, while eliminating significant hazardous waste risks," Mr. Whyne said.
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.
The result? A faster, more efficient process that produced less waste and achieved the goal of making the TCs eligible for recycling.
SOURCE U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency