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Pollution Prevention and Control Technologies for Plating Operations


Section 1 - Overview of Project Results

1.1 Description of Project

1.1.3 Project Scope

A diagram showing the various stages of the project is provided in Exhibit 1-1. The assessment was conducted using three major sources of information and data:

(1) A mailed questionnaire-survey sent to approximately 2,000 electroplating and metal finishing plants (Users Survey). (2) A mailed questionnaire-survey of approximately 60 vendors of pollution prevention and control equipment and off-site metals recycling services (Vendors Survey). (3) A literature search that gathered approximately 520 articles, reports, conference papers and other sources of relevant information.

Using the collected materials, information and data, a set of seven Interim Reports was written covering the following topics:

Interim Report No. 1: Overview of Project Results
Interim Report No. 2: General Waste Reduction Practices
Interim Report No. 3: Chemical Recovery
Interim Report No. 4: Chemical Solution Maintenance
Interim Report No. 5: Process Substitution
Interim Report No. 6: Wastewater Treatment
Interim Report No. 7: Off-Site Metals Recycling

The Interim Reports were distributed to the respondents of the Users and Vendors Surveys and other interested parties. Based on comments received during the review process, the Interim Reports were revised and subsequently consolidated into this text. The text and associated database will be updated once these results are disseminated and feedback is received. This will include additional data that will be accepted from new respondents to the Users Survey and Vendors Survey.

The most important element of the project was the Users Survey. During this project phase, a questionnaire was developed and sent to approximately 2,000 electroplating and metal finishing plants. The questionnaire development process included the preparation of several drafts of the survey form that were tested on representative plating shops. Also, during the development of the questionnaire, input was received from the National Association of Metal Finishers (NAMF), American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers (AESF), other industry personnel and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Users Survey questionnaire covered seven major areas:

  • Facility Identification and Characterization Data (company name, point of contact, number of employees, age of plant, general types of plating equipment used, primary business areas, and production rates).
  • Wastewater Data (type of discharge: direct, indirect, zero; plating and other industrial wastewater flow rates; effluent limitations; and compliance difficulties).
  • Process Identification (metal cleaning including solvent use, plating, stripping, aluminum finishing, other surface finishing processes, number of process tanks of each type and total volumes of specific process solutions).
  • Pollution Prevention and Recycle Technology Identification (frequency of use and level of success for: good operating practices, rinse water and drag-out reduction, chemical recovery technologies, bath maintenance technologies, product changes, bath chemistry changes, and off-site recycling).
  • Technology Data Sheets (details for advanced chemical recovery/recycling and bath maintenance technologies including: manufacturer, date of purchase, capital and operating costs/savings, skill requirements and man-hour requirements for operation and maintenance, satisfaction ratings for vendors and the technology itself, performance and operational and maintenance details, residuals generation, and future plans of the technology user).
  • End-of-Pipe Treatment (details of processes employed, ratings of manufacturers, chemical reagent requirements and costs, labor requirements, residuals generation, and associated compliance problems).
  • Identification of Facility Problems and Needs (environmental problems, technical information needs, technical resources that are utilized, ideas on dissemination and use of the project results).

The mailing list for the Users Survey included all members of the National Association of Metal Finishers, participating member companies of the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences that operate plating shops, military plating shops and captive plating shops that were identified by Elsevier Science Publishing Co. (Metal Finishing magazine).

To store, organize and utilize the data from the Users Survey, a database was prepared. Because the database would be made publicly available, respondents were assigned a code number which was entered into the database in place of a company's or individual's name. Database control software was developed using a commercial program (Clarion™). The database was then utilized to provide statistical results from the Users Survey.

The commercial software that was selected is a modern, professional, relational database language that allows the production of a free-standing program to control and use the database without any royalty, user fee, or distribution requirement or cost. This is unlike many other languages that are subject to distribution fees or requirements to buy "runtime" software to operate the programs. Furthermore, the resulting program is user-friendly and menu-driven and can be used without any knowledge of database language or specific expertise in software. The hardware requirements include an IBM AT, PS/2 or 100% compatible computer, IBM DOS 3.1 or higher operating system, 640 KB ram, EGA or VAG color monitor, one 5-1/4" or 3-1/2" diskette drive, a hard drive and a parallel laser printer with full IBM-US character set.

Although for most users the original version of the database is expected to be sufficient, other users may want a different format that is more familiar to them. As such, converted formats (e.g., dbase™) are available.

The database, which like this report is publicly available, contains most of the data entered into the Users Survey questionnaires (most comments or experiences that did not fit into the database format have been included in this text). Although much of the Users Survey data has already been evaluated and summarized in this text, individuals or organizations may want to use the database to find out specific details concerning a given technology application or to prepare their own statistical analyses or summaries. Therefore, the availability of the database enhances the usefulness of the text. As an example, Section 6 covers technologies used for end-of-pipe treatment. A reader of the text may locate from data tables a shop using a specific combination of technologies that the reader is investigating. Using the database, the reader can quickly determine what plating processes that shop has in place and the volumes of solutions that are present, the effluent limitations that the shop is required to meet, any compliance problems they have reported, what methods of recovery/recycle or bath maintenance are also used that may impact the end-of-pipe process selection or other specific facts that may have influenced the choice of treatment technologies.


Note: The database is a publicly available product of this project. For information contact CAI Engineering (703-264-0039)


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