Thursday 1:55 Mike Sawayda, Process Engineer, PMET
Using Iron Oxides in Brixx©
Mike Sawayda, Senior Process Engineer
There are currently more than 88 million tons of fly and bottom ash produced by coal fired electrical generation in the United States. Only 45% of this material is beneficially used, leaving nearly 53 million tons of ash unused and requiring landfilling at a cost to the electric utilities. Pittsburgh Mineral & Environmental Technology (PMET) has developed an innovative, patented Brixx Technology at the pilot plant scale to utilize additional fly ash. This process produces saleable building products by combining lime with fly and bottom ash, producing a product that is made of 90% recycled materials. PMET Brixx are stand-alone products, saleable to consumers and unlike some concrete applications, can utilize fly ash with an LOI exceeding 3%. After mixing the required components, desired shapes are pressed and a hydrothermal cure forms tobormorite crystals in the Brixx, creating a strong building product. Shape examples include rectangular, hollow-section, and interlocking blocks. Colored products are produced by adding pigments to the mixture or applying coatings to the finished products. PMET will also investigate whether AMD sludge can be used as a pigment.
PMET has demonstrated this technology in an Energy Harvest Grant sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Brixx were demonstrated to be 54% stronger than commercially available pavers and pass ASTM standards for pavers. Additionally, PMET demonstrated that this technology will utilize between 3.5 and 10.5 times less energy and emit 50% less CO2 than traditional clay brick production.
To commercialize the technology, PMET is seeking a joint venture partner. For the commercialization effort, PMET will license the technology to the joint venture company and provide the required technical support. PMET is seeking a partner(s) that is able to provide capital to construct a plant, is willing to operate the plant, and has the knowledge and infrastructure for marketing and distribution of building products.
The first commercial Brixx plant is expected to produce approximately 13.5 million pieces per year, about half the size of an average brick plant. A paver product is projected to exhibit a direct cost of less than $0.11 per piece and to be saleable at $0.25. The installed capital of such a plant is expected to be $2.2 million. For a partner that is providing the capital for a 50% share in the venture, PMET expects an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 33% and a Net Present Value (NPV) of this investment at $5.3 million.
Michael Sawayda is currently a Senior Process Engineer with a background in chemical engineering and experience in both research and manufacturing. He has coordinated and developed various pilot plant operations, including a process at PMET to produce low-cost hydrogen and one demonstrating PMET’s patented Brixx process. In addition, he develops computer models of mass and energy balances and thermodynamic equilibria to prepare processes for scale-up. He recieved both B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.