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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Ames Goldsmith

Ames Goldsmith Corporation, Glens Falls

Background

Ames Goldsmith has recycled silver on alumina ethylene oxide catalyst since 1983 in its facility at Glens Falls, NY. In addition to catalyst refining, the company which employs some 50 people makes silver nitrate and silver-based electronic materials.

Methodologies and Procedures

In 1992, the refinery was at full capacity, with continued market growth and a need to double plant throughput to continue to satisfy its main customers. The company decided to review its technology, and to set as a goal the development of a new process which would double throughput without increasing air, wastewater or solid emissions. The existing process generated wastewater containing trace amounts of silver, well within the local limit of 0.2 ppm and air emissions containing NOx and CO2. Currently, NOx is abated by reductive incineration.

The existing process involved the purification, precipitation and drying to produce a pure silver powder and melting that powder in an oil-fired furnace. Then, the refined silver bars are redissolved in nitric acid for further purification and processing into silver nitrate or oxide, which are the starting materials of choice for the production of ethylene oxide catalyst.

Laboratory experiments indicated that it might be feasible to change the purification process to avoid melting and redissolving the resultant bars. Technical challenges included the separation of large amounts of alumina soluble in nitric acid, and of magnesium and calcium from the silver present. Other challenges included the control of alkali metals and halides which are undesirable impurities in the catalyst system. Careful control of process parameters was another engineering challenge.

Ames did not have the financial resources to complete the research and to modify their plant to reach their desired goal. The New York State Research and Development Authority and Glens Falls National Bank provided matching loans to enable the company to proceed with the work and to install the equipment needed to scale up the laboratory experiments through a pilot plant phase into a full scale facility.

Benefits

The refinery has reduced nitric acid consumption by 25 percent or 17,000 gallons, which saves some $14,000 a year. This also reduces the potential hazards associated with trucking acid as well as emissions generated at the acid-manufacturing plant.

NOx fed to the fume abatement system from refining has been reduced by 25 percent or 24,500 pounds per year. This reduced natural gas consumption by 12,500 cubic feet which results in savings of $4,000.

Because the quantity of silver melted has been halved, the fuel oil consumption has also been reduced by 20,000 gallons, saving $20,000 a year. Combustion emissions from the furnace has been halved.

Refinery water consumption and wastewater discharges have been reduced by 50 percent, saving some $25,000 a year in water and sewer fees.

Sludges generated in the wastewater pretreatment operation have been reduced significantly, saving some $130,000 a year in outside silver-recovery refining costs. At the same time, combustion and other emissions from those outside refineries have been reduced.

Ames has doubled plant capacity without the need to invest in increased fume abatement or wastewater pretreatment plants.

Ames has doubled throughput without the need for the potentially lengthy and expensive permitting process for both air and wastewater discharge repermitting.

Six new jobs have been added.

Ames refining operations have become increasingly competitive, while at the same time improving profitability.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)

This page was last modified March 8, 1999


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