Canadian cleantech company Ecomaterials is pioneering use of converting steel slag into a replacement for traditional blast media, with 200,000 tons of a new material being shipped from Asia to Canada and more to come for the N. American market. Their new product, Duramax, is designed to be especially useful for blasting in confined areas such as ship holds and tanks, where low dust levels are important.

Sundeep Khosla, VP Business Development for Ecomaterials, says they can create useful synthetic industrial minerals from the slag: “These synthetic industrial minerals are used in a wide range of applications including surface preparation as an abrasive and as a replacement for mined sands. Our products are clean, low-dust fast acting abrasives used for sand blasting purposes, ideal for confined locations.

“Our patented process produces Duramax in a way that eliminates the formation of hairline cracks in our abrasive. Our product is therefore very resistant to crushing, and compared to other products on the market has a crush resistance that is three times higher. This high crush resistance is what makes Duramax a very aggressive abrasive that can also be recycled multiple times, and is also the reason that it produces very low dust.

“Other products on the market such as coal slag, copper slag, sand and garnet have many hairline fractures in the material. These reduce the abrasive’s crush resistance. In sand-blasting use the defects initiate the production of small dusty particles. These alternate abrasives are also less recyclable because of these defects.

“It is difficult to see with the naked eye the defects that are present in these alternate abrasives. However, under high microscope magnification the presence of these hairline cracks may be observed. Likewise for Duramax, high magnification reveals the absence of these hairline fracture defects. Ultimately, what is very obvious to the sand-blasting operator is the remarkable decrease in the amount of dust generated by Duramax.”