Journal article

A life-cycle-based review of sulfur dioxide abatement installations in the South African platinum group metal sector

Research Areas

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Publication Details

Author list: Munyongani V, von Blottnitz H, Broadhurst JL.

Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)

Publication year: 2017

Journal: Sustainability Science

Journal name: Sustainability Science

Volume number: 12

Issue number: 5

Start page: 769

End page: 784

Total number of pages: 16

ISSN: 1862-4065

eISSN: 1862-4057



In the late 2000s, several South African platinum producers retrofitted sulfur dioxide abatement technologies to smelters in the Rustenburg area. While such end-of-pipe
technologies can reduce local environmental impacts, they may also
increase impacts associated material and energy use. Two methodologies
were fused to study how these retrofits have shifted environmental
burdens, and whether such knowledge would have been useful to design
decision-makers. A life cycle assessment was carried out to determine the environmental impacts associated with the key design choices of these smelter and furnace flue gas SO2 abatement technologies, viz. technology choice and the fractional recovery of SO2. The two technology options used by industries and investigated were i) concentrated dual-alkali srubbing and ii) a srubber feeding an acid plant. The results show that the concentrated dual-alkali
process has, overall, higher environmental impacts than the scrubber
with acid plant. Notably, for the former, all environmental impacts
(except acidification) increase with increasing SO2 recovery, whereas for the latter some impacts reduce with increasing recovery due to the by-product sulfuric acid that replaces acid otherwise produced. Subsequently, the results of the LCA were combined with insights from expert interviews to explore design decision-making in the minerals industry, and whether incorporating LCA in formal environmental assessment processes would be of any value to the minerals industry. Expert interviews revealed that incorporating LCA could enable the quantification of
impacts for the different technology options, and help justify the
chosen options. We argue that normalised results would enable more
meaningful interpretation of LCA to further assist such decision-making processes.


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Decision making

Last updated on 2017-14-12 at 15:10