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Procedia Chemistry 19 (2016) 842 846

5th International Conference on Recent Advances in Materials, Minerals and Environment


(RAMM) & 2nd International Postgraduate Conference on Materials, Mineral and Polymer
(MAMIP), 4-6 August 2015

Characterization of EAF Steel Slag Waste: The Potential Green


Resource for Ceramic Tile Production
Pao Ter Teoa, Anasyida Abu Semana, Projjal Basub, Nurulakmal Mohd Sharif a,*
a

Structural Materials Niche Area, School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering,Engineering Campus, Universiti Sains Malaysia,
14300 Nibong Tebal, Penang, Malaysia
b
R&D Department, Southern Steel Berhad, 2723, Lorong Perusahaan 12, Prai Industrial Estate, 13600 Prai, Penang, Malaysia

Abstract
This study aims to characterize and investigate properties of electric arc furnace (EAF) steel slag waste to ensure its compatibility
and suitability in ceramic tile production. Initially, the lump form of EAF slag obtained from Southern Steel Berhad, Penang (one
of Malaysias largest steel makers) was crushed into powder. The slag powder was then characterized in terms of loss of ignition
(L.O.I.), chemical composition, leaching behaviour, phase analysis and flow button test. The EAF slag was found to have
superior low L.O.I. (0.01 wt.%). In terms of chemical composition, the slag mainly consisted of oxides such as Al 2O3, CaO,
MgO, SiO2, FeO and Fe3O4, which are similar with typical raw materials (clay, silica and feldspar) for ceramic tile production.
CaO based complex oxides such as larnite (2CaO.SiO2) and gehlenite (Al2O3.2CaO.SiO2) were the major mineral phases in the
slag while wustite (FeO) and magnetite (Fe3O4) were present as the minor phases. From flow button test, it was observed that the
EAF slag began to fuse at 1250 C. Leaching test revealed that concentrations of the heavy metals leached from the EAF slag in
both tap water and rain water conditions were lower than the limit regulated by Department of Environment (DOE) Malaysia.
Thus, the slag could be considered as non-hazardous and it is safe to be utilized as one of the raw materials for ceramic tile
production. Future studies will focus on body formulation and properties of the ceramic tile incorporated with the EAF steel slag
waste.

Published
by Elsevier
B.V. B.V.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
2016
2016The
TheAuthors.
Authors.
Published
by Elsevier
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Peer-review under responsibility of School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia.
Peer-review under responsibility of School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia
Keywords: EAF steel slag waste; ceramic tile

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +604-5996180; fax: +604-5941011.


E-mail address: srnurul@usm.my

1876-6196 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Peer-review under responsibility of School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia
doi:10.1016/j.proche.2016.03.111

Pao Ter Teo et al. / Procedia Chemistry 19 (2016) 842 846

843

1. Introduction
EAF slag forms during production of molten steel from scrap metal in the electric arc furnace (EAF), whereby the
scrap metal is melted along with lime in refractory lined vessels. Injected carbon in the molten steel is removed as
carbon dioxide, contributing to the foamy slag. Subsequently, silicon and other remaining impurities in the scrap
metal combined with the added lime and injected oxygen to form slag layer on top of the molten steel 1. Due to this,
EAF slag plays an important role to refine the molten steel derived from scrap metal 2. Upon completion of the
melting in the EAF section, the slag is discharged and dumped in landfills. It could be estimated that approximately
10 15 wt.% of EAF slag is generated per ton of molten steel, leading to huge amount of the slag to be disposed
each year3. In 2014, approximately 160 million metric ton of the slag was progressively generated by global steel
making industries and this heightens the pressure to properly manage the slag. Meanwhile, the conventional solution
of dumping the huge amount of slag in landfill is getting obsolete as the exploration of new lands for landfilling
would consume higher cost and might cause permanent damage to flora and fauna 4. The current rapid growing of
global buildings and construction industry is another great challenge for the steel makers to search for new and
available lands for the landfilling purpose. Considering the limitations of landfilling, recycling of the EAF slag waste
as green raw material for valuable products is the most desirable and environment friendly solution to properly
manage the slag. Yi et al. (2012) have proposed the recycling of the EAF slag into various construction and building
materials such as aggregate, brick, ceramic tile and cementing material5. However, the properties and behavior of the
slag vary with different steel grades and steel manufacturers5. Since the main intention of this project is to recycle
the EAF slag (obtained from Southern Steel Berhad, Penang, Malaysia) into green ceramic tile, it is essential to
understand and investigate the properties of the EAF slag prior to the recycling. This is expected to shed lights in
evaluating the compatibility and suitability of the EAF slag in ceramic tile. Therefore, this study aims to characterize
the EAF slag in terms of loss of ignition (L.O.I.), chemical composition, phase analysis, flow button test and
leaching behavior.
2. Methodology
Before characterization, lump form of EAF slag (obtained from Southern Steel Berhad, Penang, Malaysia) was
crushed into powder form by using ring mill for 10 minutes. Loss of ignition (L.O.I.) was determined by igniting the
slag powder in furnace at 1000 C for 2 hours. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) was used to acquire chemical composition
of the slag. Leaching test was performed in accordance with EN 12457-1:20002 (European Standard) to evaluate the
mobility of potentially heavy metal elements (Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Pb and Zn) in the slag by using tap and rain water as
leaching mediums. Phase analysis was carried out using X-ray diffractometer (XRD) to identify mineral phases
present in the slag. The phase identification was refined by Rietveld Refinement method and weight percentage of
each phase was quantified upon the refinement. Flow button test was conducted in order to determine the
temperature at which the EAF slag starts to fuse. Initially, the EAF slag powder was pressed into button with
compaction pressure of 150 MPa. Then, the buttons were fired in furnace at various temperatures (1050 C, 1100 C,
1150 C, 1200 C, 1250 C, 1300 C, 1350 C and 1400C) for 2 hours. The flow behavior of the buttons were
observed.
3. Results and Discussion
XRF elemental analysis has revealed the chemical composition and L.O.I. of the EAF slag, as shown in
Table 1. In terms of chemical composition, it was found that the EAF slag primarily consists of iron oxide (FeO
and Fe3O4), calcium oxide (CaO) and silicon dioxide (SiO2). Apart from that, aluminium oxide (Al2O3), manganese
oxide (MnO), magnesium oxide (MgO) and chromium oxide (Cr 2O3) were minor components of the slag. Based on
literature, the EAF slag was found to have close chemical composition to natural resources such as clay, silica and
feldspar, which are required for conventional ceramic tile production6. Thus, the EAF slag is possible to be recycled
into ceramic tile.

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Pao Ter Teo et al. / Procedia Chemistry 19 (2016) 842 846

Table 1. Chemical composition and L.O.I. of EAF slag


Oxides
Weight Percentage (wt.%)
Total Fe
33.34
CaO
27.22
SiO2
20.80
Al2O3
9.19
MnO
3.98
MgO
2.06
Cr2O3
1.23
L.O.I.
0.01
From L.O.I. test, the slag had superior low L.O.I. (0.01 wt.%) due to it formed on top of molten steel at high
temperature (1500 1600 C). Hence, during formation of the slag, most of its moisture and impurities (carbonate,
sulphate and organic compounds) have been evaporated by the high processing temperature of the molten steel. The
superior low L.O.I. of the slag would yield ceramic tile with minimum closed porosity due to less severe
decomposition of the impurities during firing of the tile. Table 2 shows leaching behavior of the EAF slag in both
tap water and rain water leaching mediums.
Heavy Metal
Elements
Cd
Cr
Cu
Mn
Pb
Zn

Table 2. Leaching behavior of EAF slag


Leaching Medium
Benchmarking: DOE Malaysia7
Tap Water Rain Water
ppm
0
0
0.02
ppm
0.005
0.004
0.05
ppm
0.001
0
1.00
ppm
0
0
1.00
ppm
0
0
0.50
ppm
0.013
0.013
1.00
Unit

According to Table 2, concentrations of the heavy metals leached-out from the EAF slag in tap water and rain water
mediums were lower than the limit regulated by Department of Environment, Malaysia. Thus, it could be deduced
that the EAF slag is non-hazardous. It is safe to be handled and subsequently recycled into ceramic tile.
Result of phase analysis of EAF slag is illustrated in Fig. 1.

L
W
L

G
L
M
L
W
L

G
LL

M
L

G Gehlenite
L Larnite
W Wustite
M Magnetite

W
L

L
L L

LG
LL LGG
L

GL
L

L
M

L
GG

Fig. 1. XRD pattern of EAF slag


By observing the XRD profile, CaO compounds (gehlenite Al2O3.2CaO.SiO2 and larnite 2CaO.SiO2) were major
mineral phases while iron oxide (wustite FeO and magnetite Fe3O4) were minor mineral phases present in the
slag. The XRD pattern of the slag was relatively complicated due to the slag consisted of various complex oxides

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Pao Ter Teo et al. / Procedia Chemistry 19 (2016) 842 846

and this might cause inaccuracy in phase identification. Thus, in order to refine the phase identification, Rietveld
refinement was performed in the analysis. Through this technique, values of agreement indices such as weighted
residual profile (Rwp) and goodness of fit (GOF) were monitored as they are indicators for the refinement quality
level. To achieve a good quality of refinement, the R wp and GOF should be less than 20 and 4, respectively8. Weight
percentage of each phase and the agreement indices upon Rietveld refinement are tabulated in Table 3.
Table 3. Weight percentage of mineral phases and agreement indices of Rietveld refinement
Agreement Indices
Weight Percentage
Mineral Phases
(wt.%)
Rwp
GOF
Gehlenite
13.2
(Al2O3.2CaO.SiO2)
Larnite
55.5
6.61
3.60
(2CaO.SiO2)
Wustite (FeO)
28.5
Magnetite (Fe3O4)
2.9
The weight percentage of larnite was the highest (55.50 wt.%), followed by wustite (28.5 wt.%), gehlenite (13.2
wt.%) and magnetite (2.9 wt.%). This agrees with the chemical composition of the EAF slag discussed previously.
In terms of Rietveld refinement, both the R wp (6.61) and GOF (3.60) were lower than the recommended values.
Thus, the phase identification and quantification performed are acceptable. These mineral phases, especially CaO
coumpounds play an important role in the formation of ceramic tile. From literature survey, it is possible for the
CaO compounds (major phases in the EAF slag) to react with clay, leading to formation of new crystalline phases
such as anorthite and wollastonite in the ceramic tile incorporated with EAF slag9. These crystals are expected to
improve the properties of the tile10.
Fig. 2 shows the observations of the EAF slag buttons changes at different firing temperatures. As firing
temperature was increased from 1050 C to 1200 C, the EAF slag buttons began to shrink and the highest shrinkage
was observed to occur at firing temperature of 1200 C.

1050C

1250C

1100C

1300C

1150C

1350C

1200C

1400C
Shrinkage

Complete
melting

Fig. 2. Melting of EAF slag buttons at different temperatures (1050 C, 1100 C, 1150 C, 1200 C, 1250 C,
1300 C, 1350 C and 1400C)
Furthermore, as the button was fired at 1250 C, it started to fuse partially. This was assumed as the furnace-cooled
EAF slag button was difficult to be removed from crucible. A more severe melting was observed at 1300 C and the

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Pao Ter Teo et al. / Procedia Chemistry 19 (2016) 842 846

slag button completely melted at firing temperature of 1400 C. Through this test, it can be inferred that the EAF
slag started to fuse at 1250 C and thus, the maximum firing temperature that could be used to produce the ceramic
tile incorporated with EAF slag is 1200 C.
4. Conclusion
At the end of the current studies, the properties of EAF slag were well-understood. The slag had close chemical
composition with typical raw materials for ceramic tile production. It also possessed superior low L.O.I. and nonhazardous. It is anticipated that the original crystalline phases in the slag would be transformed into new phases
upon sintering of the ceramic tile, which could strengthen the tile body. Considering those highlighted properties,
the EAF slag waste has great potential to be recycled as a green resource for ceramic tile production. Future studies
will focus on body formulation and properties of the ceramic tile incorporated with the EAF slag waste.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank Southern Steel Berhads Contract Research Fund (No: SSB P251) for the
funding of this project. Also, special thanks to RST Technology for providing the EAF slag. The first author would
also like to thank Ministry of Education Malaysias Sponsorship (My Brain 15) for the financial support.
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