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Recycled glass effective for cleaning steel

Recycled glass has proved itself an extremely effective grit blast medium for cleaning steel and preparing metal for painting.

After trials at Dunstons Ship Repairs in Hull, commissioned by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the 100% recycled glass-based product proved a viable alternative to current methods.

Dunstons managing director Graham Billany said: “We’ve used copper slag for more than 30 years and while this is a cost effective material, we were interested in exploring the potential of recycled glass grit as an environmentally friendly alternative.

“We agreed to a full scale trial and the results of preliminary tests on different steel samples, including man hole covers, rusted cargo hold plates and heavily pitted ballast tanks proved very encouraging.”

In the initial trials, the medium demonstrated improvements in productivity over the traditional copper slag of up to 240% and the time taken for blasting was reduced by up to half.

On the deck of the ship, recycled glass was 16% quicker, while on the bottom of the vessel it produced a brighter finish which appeared to be cleaner.

Billany added: “We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results of these trials which have clearly demonstrated the time, productivity and cosmetic benefits of switching, and we are now looking into the wider implications of using recycled glass grit.”

Other pluses include the fact recycled glass grit is non-toxic, inert and does not cause respiratory or environmental problems. It also does not have to be imported unlike most conventional abrasives, meaning shorter delivery time.

WRAP materials manager for glass Andy Dawe said: “We’ve been aware of the advantages of recycled glass grit in the UK for some time, but our task has been to demonstrate the operational and commercial benefits to the market by funding trials such as these.

“In the USA, glass grit has been proved to effectively clean masonry, renovate equipment and restore woodwork among other applications. We’re delighted the marine industry is recognising the potential of this new medium and hope specifiers and contractors will now use it more widely.”

The results will have implications for a wide range of industry sectors and will assist the UK in meeting its target under the European Union packaging directive of recycling 60% of glass by 2008.

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