Foundry sand source reduction options: Life cycle assessment evaluation

Samuel Ghormley, Robert Williams, Bruce Dvorak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Foundries represent a significant part of the world’s economy and are a large consumer of energy and producer of solid waste. Sand-handling processes can use 5–10% of a foundry’s total energy. The goal of this research was to explore source reduction and waste minimization at a foundry, using both economic and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) techniques to compare three secondary sand-reclamation options. LCA software modeled all sand processes at a mid-sized ferrous foundry in the USA. The LCA showed all secondary reclamation technologies, while more energy intensive at the foundry, lowered life cycle environmental impacts, including GHG emissions, ecotoxicity, and human health indicators, due primarily to source reduction and corresponding reduction in transportation both from the virgin sand source and to the landfill. Varying transportation distance had a large impact on LCA results to the point where the life cycle benefit of secondary reclamation became a liability in a zero distance scenario. Varying electricity generation to favor greener sources was also examined, but proved to have minimal impact on the LCA results. This research suggests that the greatest reduction of life cycle impacts in the sand-handling processes for a foundry is to find a geographically closer source for virgin sand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironments - MDPI
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Foundry sand
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Microwave reclamation
  • Sand reclamation
  • Secondary reclamation
  • Source reduction
  • Thermal reclamation
  • Transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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