New OARDC research will benefit businesses like Columbus Castings, shown here, say OARDC’s Nicholas Basta, left, and the Ohio Cast Metals Association’s Russ Murray, right. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES.)
What to do with 10 million tons of sand every year that would otherwise go in a landfill? Use it to grow plants and industry.
Their findings fed into a risk assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The assessment determined that spent foundry sand, when put back to use in some soil applications, is safe for people’s health and the environment. The finding applies only to silica sand from aluminum, iron and steel foundries.
The work has opened new business doors. Ohio’s green industry now can manufacture and market new soil mixes using the sand. And the state’s many metal casting foundries can reduce their landfilling costs, save money and stay competitive.
“Based on this research, Ohio EPA is developing new rules for beneficially reusing spent foundry sand,” said Russ Murray, executive director of the Ohio Cast Metals Association. “We’re confident these rules will provide opportunities for Ohio foundries to significantly reduce their disposal costs for the sand. This should make these foundries more competitive.”
Ohio is the No. 1 metal casting state in the nation. Its 200-plus foundries provide 22,000 jobs and produce metal castings for products such as cars, trucks, tractors, turbines, aircraft and appliances.
Reusing 10 percent of the 10 million tons of spent foundry sand sent to landfills every year can save U.S. foundries about $40 million annually. That’s based on an average disposal cost of $40 a ton.
The potential savings for Ohio and U.S. foundries will be a leg up in an increasingly competitive international market.
Reusing spent foundry sand will also create new businesses and jobs. These businesses and jobs will be based on using spent foundry sand to make new soil blends and soil substitutes.
Graduate student Cindy Barrera Martínez (left) and researcher Katrina Cornish make latex gloves for testing at OARDC’s alternative rubber pilot plant in Wooster.
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center researchers have developed new materials that will allow medical professionals to have the natural latex gloves they prefer, while avoiding the risk of allergic reactions.
The patent-pending materials include a latex film made from guayule that is safe for both Type I and Type IV latex allergy sufferers, and a traditional Hevea rubber tree latex film that is Type IV-hypoallergenic.
“Guayule is a U.S. desert shrub that produces a high-quality latex which is very strong, tear-resistant, soft, comfortable and less irritating than synthetic materials from which many gloves are now made,” said Katrina Cornish, The Ohio State University’s Ohio Research Scholar and endowed chair in bioemergent materials. “And guayule latex is naturally Type I-hypoallergenic.”
To make the guayule and Hevea gloves Type IV-hypoallergenic, Cornish and her graduate students used new “accelerators” — chemicals added to speed up the curing reactions and production of latex products — that don’t leave residues associated with this type of allergy in the finished product.
Medical professionals prefer natural rubber latex gloves over synthetic ones because they are stronger, have more tactile sensitivity, provide superior protection to blood-borne pathogens and cause less hand fatigue.
Latex is also the preferred material for many healthcare and consumer products such as catheters, masks, dental dams, orthodontic rubber bands and condoms.
The Ohio State University is conducting guayule trials in southern Ohio with the aim of developing a new domestic rubber-and-latex-producing crop as well as economic opportunities in the region.
Cornish is also working with partners in South Africa to grow guayule there and to produce allergy-free condoms, empowering poor women to start their own enterprises while helping to combat the AIDS epidemic.
A startup company — EnergyEne Inc., headquartered in Wooster — has been established to lead the development and commercialization of products made from these new latex materials.
“Having a steady supply of domestically produced natural latex would open the door for major dipped-goods manufacturers and medical glove producers to re-establish facilities in the U.S.,” said Tom Marsh, president of Centrotrade Minerals & Metals, Chesapeake, Virginia. “As a raw material supplier, we applaud the work championed by Dr. Cornish and supported by OARDC.”