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Fiberglass Waste Disposal with Pyrolysis

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Mushroom Man, May 10, 2013.

  1. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    I have a waste disposal problem, but I am not alone. This is a big problem for the planet, I've learned.

    I have three rooms in my barn for oyster mushroom production. One has been ruined by rats nesting in the fiberglass insulation.

    A few years ago I stored wheat in a specially built (inadequately built, as it turned out) room in the barn. It attracted rats and they multiplied. They needed nesting material and found my heated grow rooms (for mushrooms) attractive.

    I got rid of the grain, added 10 cats (we had them already and stopped supplemental feeding) and reduced the rat population.

    Now I need to re-insulate with spray foam. The pink insulation was barely adequate anyway and caused me to waste wood and BTUs.

    The pink insulation is fouled with rat feces and urine. It is a genuine mess. In researching what to do with the materials, I learned that this problem is BIG. Waste disposal landfills are full of the stuff and many including mine require it to be stuffed in plastic bags. In my case double bagged. Then the waste must be transported to the landfill and a charge of $2.50 per bag is imposed.

    In researching further, I found that fiberglass is made of glass fibers which in turn is made mostly from sand. A Swiss/German consortium has evolved a process of pyrolyzing chopped waste fiberglass and using the resulting compound in cement which also has a large sand component. This is a great solution for the world, so we won't overwhelm the planet with waste fiberglass, although shipping all that material to Germany might pose other issues.

    I know about pyrolysis from my gasification boiler operation. I also use cement occasionally.

    With a hot fire in the boiler, dare I try to pyrolize (burn) the pink insulation/feces/urine and use the remaining resulting ash in a cement. I know that insulation is slow to burn but it will catch eventually.

    I want to reinforce one of the barn outbuildings with a lower wall of cement and I'd love to know that I recycled and saved on materials. The gasification boiler burns clean but this material might produce unwanted emissions. If I see it polluting, I will stop. It may in small amounts added to the wood be unnoticeable and that is what I am hoping for.

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  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    If you heat the pink stuff, you will drive off the contaminants and the binders (glue), both of which will form flammable gasses. I suppose you could burn that responsibly at high temp?? The residue will be a white, much more crumbly, but still fibrous glass product. I suppose you could mix that into a cement matrix, if you wanted. If you heated it a bit more, the glass would melt, not burn (it is already an oxide, after all), and then you could send the glass blob to the landfill, where it would bother no one.
  3. Circus

    Circus Member

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    EC Wisconsin
    Consuming fuel just to lessen the volume of spun glass? I've found sitting on and burping the garbage bag of fiberglass works pretty well.
    I'm guessing fiberglass's only real hazard is floating particles so tossing it into a fire is the last thing you would want to do.
  4. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    I'm wondering if you could make some kind of a press, add some sort of binder, and make bricks or pavers. easier to dispose of perhaps. Harder to do with all the abandoned/unwanted FG boats out there!
  5. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I'm dubious about this whole idea, but the material is (IIRC) 20% glue and 80% glass by weight. The binders' formulation varies, and has often had some pretty nasty stuff over the years. They never tell you what is in it, and labeling has not been required. The fibers are not particularly dangerous when inhaled, as glass will eventually dissolve, but the current best science is that inhaled glass fibers are a presumed lung cancer risk in humans (like all inert fibers), rather than a proven one.

    In a landfill environment, I think they are worried about leaching of the nasty binders, not anyone breathing the fibers. And fiberglass fibers in the natural environment will not last forever, they will eventually dissolve.
  6. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    You could staple it flat before foaming, or, use the foam board, spray foam around the edges technique to avoid removal.
  7. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Could you try burning a small sample first with something that approximates the heat of your gasification boiler?
    I believe formaldehyde has commonly been used as a binder. You might research the effects of its incineration to see if you're producing any nasty stuff.

    Edit: fiberglass is a common reinforcing fiber for concrete. Perhaps you don't need to burn it before incorporating it in a concrete. Or maybe you need only "cook" it at a temp sufficient to burn off the binders and detritus before incorporating it into concrete.

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