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topic 532

Hydrometallurgical process for recycling of galvanic sludges


We at the engineering school in Winterthur, Switzerland, are starting to develop a hydrometallurgical process (combination of ion exchange, electrochemical and other membrane processes and electrowinning) for the recycling of galvanic sludges from the swiss sur/fin industry which would have to be dumped also in the future (some 5-8000 metric tons a year). I would be very grateful for any information about the experience with this subject in the United States within the AESF.

Thank you very much.

Michal Zabelka
Technikum - Winterthur, Switzerland

November 29, 2008

Hi, Michael. These higher technology approaches combining three or more recovery methods are very capital intensive and thus seem to fit only centralized recovery installations, not individual shops. The USA has significantly less experience (and I dare say has achieved far less success) in centralized treatment and recovery than Europe.

There were a few costly major experiments with multiple metal finishing shops combining their waste for central processing, but in truth it didn't seem to fit the entrepreneurial spirit of our jobshop owners, nor our government regulations that didn't relieve the jobshop of any burdens at all while further burdening them, nor our litigation industry which feeds itself by finding individual companies to sue, nor our universities who get grants to intern budding lawyers and teach them to sue companies, or much else. In short, it seemed to me that this approach that was supposed to simplify things for plating shops while helping the environment, was just totally incompatible with life here. I hope you get more encouraging feedback from someone who saw it more positively, but I think those experiments were simply a disaster that threw millions of dollars of grant money down a rathole while putting metal finishers out of business -- so I don't think you will :-)

You might contact the AESF ( about any reports that may be available on the subject. Further, as alluded to, I think there has been success in Germany and other EU countries. Good luck!


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 28, 2009

In order to answer, I would like to know about chemical composition of your galvanic waste sludge. I am working with galvanic waste sludge based on the hydrochloric acid.

Vladimir Boiko
- Ashkelon, Israel

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