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Environmental management of granite slab production from an industrial ecology standpoint

2014 / Joan-Manuel F. Mendoza, Cinzia Capitano, Giorgia Peri, Alejandro Josa, Joan Rieradevall, Xavier Gabarrell

Journal of Cleaner Production (2014), Volume: 84 Pages: 619-628 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.03.056 Published: DEC 1 2014 ;http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.03.056; ISSN: 0959-6526 ; eISSN: 1879-1786

The granite production chain is high energy and water intensive with low resource efficiency. This paper focus on characterizing the potential for environmental improvement of the granite production chain by promoting the optimization of sawing technology, the implementation of rainwater harvesting (RWH) and the material recovery of wasted granite (sludge). The environmental performance of multi-blade gangsaw (MBGS) and diamond multi-wire saw (DMWS) technologies is compared by mean of life cycle assessment. Results demonstrate that DMWS technology contribute 30% of water savings, 40% of energy savings and 80% of material savings per square meter of polished granite tiles (60 x 40 x 2 cm) production. These resource savings contribute together to reduce the product’s environmental footprint by 35% to 80%. The potential for RWH is analyzed using Plugrisost simulation software based on system dynamics. RWH depends on the relationship between rainfall, catchment surface and tank size according to the industrial process’s water demand. The results demonstrate major potential to satisfy over 50% of the systems daily water requirements using rainwater stored in rainwater tanks of varying capacity. RWH is a sustainable strategy for industrial water cycle management. A comprehensive review of literature reveals a range of technically feasible alternatives to promote material recovery of granite sludge. The ceramic industry is one promising industrial endpoint with which to avoid waste landfilling and contribute to mineral, energy and water savings. This by-product synergy could also serve as starting point for springboarding exchanges with other industrial agents, becoming a global extension of resource efficiency.