ArcelorMittal Project

Removing Chemical from Steel Drum
E-Design 100
Section 25
Dr. Sarah Ritter
Team Unbarrelable:
Natasia Morozowich, [email protected]
Christina Kreamer, [email protected]
Nathan Lutz, [email protected]
Linnie Booz, [email protected]
27 April 2015
Executive summary or Abstract:
The goal of our product is to help ArcelorMittal to reduce their environmental footprint while
generating revenue. ArcelorMittal currently has an excess of steel barrels that are contaminated
with ethylene glycol, and would like to dispose of them or reuse them in a environmentally and
economically conscious way. To solve the problem, our team designed a plan utilizing a
continuous loop and fundamental chemistry properties. The general idea is to clean the barrels
with a hexane base, a nonpolar substance. The ethylene glycol and hexane base will not mix, just
like oil in water. After separating, the barrel will be exposed to a cold temperature where the
ethylene glycol will freeze allowing it to be removed easily. The hexane will be removed,
recycled, and repeatedly used. Hexane, commonly found in household cleaners, possesses no real
danger like ethylene glycol does. The barrels can then be used as scrap or sold instead of going
to a landfill. The overall plan will be both beneficial to ArcelorMittal and the environment.
Introduction and Problem Statement:
ArcelorMittal would like to have a complete recycling process that ensures that there are no
resources wasted after the drums are used. The process will be environmentally friendly and
economically sustainable.
Currently, ArcelorMittal is disposing of the drums, but they would like to do it in a more
environmentally friendly way. These drums, however, accumulate and cause the company
wasted space and money. This problem is not only affecting ArcelorMittal, but also anyone
involved in handling the contaminated drums before and after use. A new recycling technique
will ensure a safer way to handle and dispose of these drums. If we can not recycle, then the
contaminated drums will continue to accrue and cost the company money.
These drums of hazardous material are required through December to March. Therefore it is
important to fix the problem by cleaning the barrels and disposing of the chemical waste in a
fashion that is suitable for the environment and general public.
Definition of Sustainability:
An environmentally and economically conscious process of systems working in a
continuous cycle in order to better the Earth and lower the impact that these processes can
ultimately cause.
Before we even started to seriously consider this design we started doing research on how
feasible this really was. We found out that the Ethylene Glycol is a polar chemical. So, we went
back to brainstorm how we could use this information in order to remove the hazardous chemical
from the barrel. After much thought we decided to find out what the Ethylene Glycol is insoluble
in. A nonpolar chemical like hexane would be able to aid in the insolubility process. This process
would allow the two chemicals to separate in one another; however, in order to actually abstract
one chemical from the other we looked into the freezing temperatures of the substances. The
Ethylene Glycol freezes at 14 degrees fahrenheit and the hexane freezes at -140 degrees
Customer Needs:
Table 1: The following table shows the customer needs based on a ranking system we designed.
As a group, we came up with 8 crucial customer needs that just couldn’t be avoided.
After coming up with these 8 customer needs we thought were most important. We then came up
with a ranking skill for each need compared to another. After we generated the comparison of
each customer need we saw that the most important factors of our design were the safety, cost,
reusability, sustainability, limited byproducts, timely, ease of use, and that it meets all of the
legal requirements. After, comparing each of these customer needs in our AHP matrix, we came
to conclusion that the safety and sustainability of the product design were the most important.
Which we thought ArcelorMittal would absolutely agree with.
Concept Generation:
Individually, each of us brainstormed some ideas then as a group we narrowed down and
selected parts from each idea that we liked. We generated a lot of ideas ranging from shipping
the barrels back to making the ethylene glycol insoluble in water to easily remove it. We also
came up with burning the chemicals off, creating an inner lining and diluting the ethylene glycol
with water until it meets government standards for safe waste water. We combined several of
these preliminary ideas to create four refined designs. The four design selected are lining the
inside of the barrel with some type of plastic, diluting the ethylene glycol with water, shipping
the barrels back to the chemical company, and using solubility rules. Diluting the chemical with
water would utilize ethylene glycol polar properties while diluting the unwanted, hazardous
characteristics. We came up with these ideas by evaluating how safe for people and the
environment it would be while still being semi profitable, which is why we eliminated burning
off the excess chemicals. The four design ideas we chose also had to be feasible, and make a real
change. Shipping back the barrels seemed feasible since it would be safe and would eliminate the
space taken up by the barrels. Lining of the barrels seemed like a possibility as it would have
limited byproducts, and would prevent contamination of the barrels in the first place. Using
solubility rules such as polarity was our other concept. Originally, we wanted to make the
ethylene glycol insoluble, but after the group brainstorming, we decided it would be easier to
manipulate polarity rules as it would accomplish the same task. In conclusion, through group
brainstorming and meetings, we determined the top four design concepts.
Concept Selection:
Table 2: The following table shows our process of selecting our best design idea.
We ended up with four different design ideas for the removal of hazardous chemicals
from the steel barrels. The first idea was to put a plastic lining inside the barrels that would be
removable and reusable for the transportation of the chemicals. This idea would not be the most
eco-friendly idea which is essentially why we did not select it, although, it was one of the safest
ideas. The second idea was to pour mass amounts of water in the barrels to wash out the excess
chemical, but with this idea, there was the issue of having so much excess contaminated water,
and no way of disposing of it. The last idea that we had was to ship the barrels back to the
supplier for reuse. Since the company is going to continue shipping the barrels of chemicals no
matter what, they might as well just reuse the ones that they are sending. We figured this would
be more of a business deal instead of a new design idea, and the cost of transportation might
outweigh the amount that we would sell the barrels back for and that is why we decided against
this idea even though it would be the best idea to limit any byproduct.
Our final design idea that we decided to go with was the insolubility process. The first
step in this idea is to mix a hexane based chemical into the barrel while pouring around the walls.
This nonpolar hexane will have a natural tendency to separate from the polar ethylene glycol
residue in the barrels because of the difference in intermolecular forces. This will have the same
effect as oil and water and the two chemicals will be completely separated in the barrel. The next
step is to freeze these barrels at a temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the freezing
temperature of the ethylene glycol. The hexane base chemical has a much lower freezing
temperature and will stay as a liquid as the ethylene glycol turns to solid. After freezing, the
ethylene glycol can be extracted from the barrel, and reused. The hexane can simply be poured
out and since it is found in many cleaning products, the excess hexane will evaporate from the
barrel, and the barrel will be ready to be sold and reused. The hexane is also reused for every
time this process is going to be completed, making everything in this process reusable and a
working closed system.
This design is the best mainly due to the sustainability of it. ArcelorMittal will be able to
significantly reduce its waste footprint by reusing all materials in the process through this closed
system. Previously, their cradle to grave process left them with chemically contaminated barrels
that could not be reused and were sent to the trash. This process will reduce the barrel waste, and
give ArcelorMittal a profit as well in a safe and environmentally friendly way.
Design Review:
In the design review with team two, safety was a main concern with this design. After all
the chemicals have the potential to be dangerous if not handled carefully so we need to consider
how the chemicals will be in contact with the environment and people. Being unsafe represents
more than a lawsuit, but it is extremely unethical. Overall team two said we met all the
requirements as both chemicals could be reused along with the barrels in a continuous loop.
Team two agrees with us that this could be potentially profitable, but in the long run as the
startup costs will be significant. Since it is a closed loop the hexane base will only need to be
bought once as all or most of it will be recovered and then recycled to clean out other barrels.
The only other suggestions team two had was to look deeper into the chemistry process and how
it would work in the real world compared to that of an ideal one. Team two liked our idea of a
closed loop and were optimistic that it would be a profitable venture that would improve
ArcelorMittal commitment to the environment and business.
After carefully reviewing the qualifications, we have thought of a few modifications.
While sticking to the original design, we will have a more in depth analysis of the dangers a
hexane base presents, and what to do if there is an accidental spillage. The main concern team
two brought up was that we did not have any real plans if an accident would occur. Therefore,
we will make a safety analysis and proposal to minimize any possible danger and accidents. This
would include plans in case someone or the outside environment comes into contact with any of
these potential dangerous chemicals. Further research into a hexane bases will be done to insure
safety with the possibility of using a different nonpolar substance with similar freezing points
and other properties to reduce cost and promote safety.
3D Model/Prototype /Images of process, etc:
When designing this process we kept on comparing it to oil in water. Just like our design
separates two chemicals based on polarization, so does oil in water. This allowed us to perform a
nice demonstration of the oil in water to show further how our system works. We also came up
with a nice flow chart to show our 5 step process of our closed system. This was the basis for our
Figure 1: The above picture shows how we demonstrated the separation of chemicals with oil
and water.
Systems Diagram:
Throughout our whole design we were mindful of our system diagram. A system diagram
shows all the inputs and outputs. This is a necessity to our design because it all relates back to
our definition of sustainability. We wanted to eliminate hazardous outputs completely and try to
generate a system where the only output is money. This allows ArcelorMittal to generate a
revenue and cut down on their eco footprint. As far as inputs go we knew we wanted to keep
them to minimum. The least amount of inputs allows for a simple process that can be performed
by anyone. In our system we have hexane and the contaminated barrel. After our process is
performed we have a clean barrel, hexane, and ethylene glycol. The hexane can be reused for the
next time you perform this process and the ethylene glycol could be stored, reused, or sold. The
clean barrels are now able to be sold or scrapped to allow for more storage for other necessities.
Cost and Feasibility Analysis:
Our solution concept, begins with an upfront $1500 initial cost for the hexane base [2].
After the initial cost, within approximately 3 weeks all funds spent will be turned around into
profit for ArcelorMittal. We are estimating that ArcelorMittal will be able to clean and sell 20
barrels a week at around $50 per barrel [2], making $1000 per week. In addition, our process is
simple enough for a single full time worker to complete on their own. Thus, assuming the worker
is paid $10 an hour and working 40 hours a week ArcelorMittal will be paying out $400 a week.
Therefore, our system will be making ArcelorMittal $600 in total revenue per week and in the
end approximately $31,200 annually.
Figure 2: The graph above shows the cost analysis of our system over a period of only 40 days.
Life Cycle Analysis:
ArcelorMittal is currently on a “cradle to grave” process. The process goes: extraction,
manufacturing, sales, use, and then disposal. The problem with the “cradle to grave” process is
that the final step is disposal. ArcelorMittal wants to see more of a “cradle to cradle” process in
which the final steps involve more of a recycling process. Our design allows a “cradle to cradle”
process because of our closed system. All of the chemicals used in our process are recycled and
reused. Since we are reusing all chemicals, this allows ArcelorMittal to minimize some of their
eco footprint and to better the environment.
The insolubility design utilizes polarity and physical properties of ethylene glycol. The
design features many pros such as limited by products and recovery of the ethylene glycol,
hexane base, and steel drums. The output is astronomically greater than the required inputs. Also,
the process is fairly safe and economically sustainable. The design has a few drawbacks such as
the high initial cost of the hexane, and the expense of the cooling process. Also, there is the
possibility that some hexane residue will remain. While hexane bases are typically used in
household cleaners, the residue may present a potential problem depending if it is mixed with
another chemical. If mixed with another chemical there is a small possibility it could react
violently. Also, the chemical freezing point is about -140 degrees Fahrenheit so it would be
expensive to attempt to remove the hexane by freezing it. From here, the design needs to be
refined to reduce on byproducts, overall cost, and a possible change in the nonpolar substance. It
would be nice to change the hexane base to a cheaper, safer chemical if possible. We would also
like a more definite plan on who to sell the used barrels to, or how they can be used as scrap at
ArcelorMittal. The team learned a lot about compromise, and taking chances. We took a chance
with an idea that was not ranked the highest in our selection matrix; however, that idea did better
overall. Also, we definitely refined our communication skills, and have a greater understanding
of how engineers solve real world problems. Overall, the project was a success despite some
hiccups along the way, leading to a great finished product and lessons about teamwork.
1. "Hexane Solvent Properties." 2015. Macro Isu. Web. 3 May 2015.
2. “Alibaba.” 2015. Alibaba Group. Web. 3 May 2015. <>.