Arrivano le “eco-lampadine” riciclate

Nella corsa alla salvezza del pianeta, magari le lampadine sembrano una cosa piccola. Ma è invece proprio da quelle che possiamo iniziare. Nel nostro piccolo, nelle nostre case. La UE ha detto addio alle lampadine ad incandescenza. Il futuro quindi appartiene a quelle a risparmio energetico. E se le lampadine in questione fossero anche costruite con materiali riciclati, magari utilizzando pezzi di quelle che finiscono nella spazzatura?? Come “Ekò”, la lampadina riciclata. Ancora più ecologica e amica dell’ambiente perché meno inquinante. E si sa, meno rifiuti, più risparmio per noi!

E’ proprio “Ekò” la novità presentata da Wiva Group, azienda specializzata in materiali elettrici e illuminazione, in collaborazione con il FAI (Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano) al salone di Ecomondo da poco tenutosi a Rimini. Si tratta di una lampadina che viene costruita riutilizzando mercurio e fosfori dalle lampadine giunte al termine del loro ciclo di vita. Qualche pezzo di vetro, plastica e di metallo e voilà! E riciclata è anche la confezione in cui viene venduta.

E se tutto questo non bastasse, “Ekò” ha un altro pregio non da poco. Utilizza la metà del mercurio – meno di 2,5 mg, quindi meno della metà della soglia consentita per legge (5 mg) – rispetto alle comuni lampadine a risparmio, senza diminuire le sue prestazioni. Un altro aspetto non secondario è la durata: “Ekò” ha una vita di circa 10.000 ore, circa 7 volte maggiore rispetto alle lampadine normali.

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2 risposte a “Arrivano le “eco-lampadine” riciclate

  1. Complimenti, si sostituiscono le lampadine ad incandescenza ad impatto zero sull’ambiente con quelle a risparmio energetico che contengono mercurio, poi si chiamano “eco” perchè ne contengono “poco”, non prendiamoci in giro… diteci piuttosto come dobbiamo smaltire le lampadine col mercurio e facciamolo alla svelta prima di ritrovarcelo nei cibi da mangiare…

  2. Face the facts: Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) Contain Mercury

    MEGAMAN® has used amalgam in manufacturing most of its CFLs for many years. From January 2008 after intensive technical development all its products were completely free from liquid mercury. By adopting this liquid mercury free policy, MEGAMAN® is able to minimize the environmental impact at different stages of the product life cycle. This act protects not only workers during production and transportation, but also the end-users during usage and upon disposal from exposure to liquid mercury. Amalgam is easily to collect after disposal and this technology can help to minimize the steps of recycling than liquid mercury. Hence, liquid mercury would 100% release after disposal.

    Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

    From a technical point of view is it possible to make CFL that does not release mercury when the lamp breaks?
    Yes. With the use of amalgam technology, there are CFLs already available in the market, which do not contain “liquid mercury”. These lamps are “liquid mercury free” and only contain minimal mercury content of less than 2mg in the form of amalgam.

    What is an amalgam in this context?
    Amalgam is a stable solid physical form. In this context it is an alloy of mercury combined with another metal. It provides a safe and eco-friendly alternative to liquid mercury. At room temperature, mercury is concealed inside the metal alloy and does not escape in the event of a lamp breakage. The solid form of amalgam makes the lamp easier and safe to handle at disposal so that it would not lead to land and water contamination.

    This amalgam has a lower melting point of below 200˚C and is a binary eutectic alloy, which is made up of mercury, bismuth, tin, lead, zinc, silver, indium, copper etc. (e.g. AgCuSnHg, ZnHg, BiSnPbHg, BiInHg) With the use of this amalgam, there is no loss of mercury at room temperature and at the atmosphere pressure and the volume of mercury can be precisely controlled. In a certain temperature range, this amalgam can ensure the ideal pressure for mercury and prevent light depreciation, which occurs due to rising temperatures, maintaining the lamp at its optimum level of luminance. The amalgam is made and melted into Eutectic Alloy in a sealed container which is either filled with nitrogen or made a vacuum environment. By using different elements and controlling the volume of mercury, different forms of this alloy, which have different working-temperature zones, are formed. Low Melting-point Amalgams are granulated in a liquid medium, allowing it to be placed both in the lamp tube and the gas-exhausting tube. The lamp manufacturing process remains unchanged and mercury is released by high-frequency currents. The amalgam releases desired volumes of mercury only when working temperature heated to 100˚C inside the lamp tube. This process is reversible, releasing mercury atoms at high temperatures and absorbing mercury atoms at low temperatures.

    Low Melting-point Amalgam, which has a working temperature of below 50˚C, is used in the manufacturing of straight-tube fluorescent lamps (e.g. T5, T8) or compact fluorescent lamp with “Hot-kiss” which possess cold-junction.

    Medium Melting-point Amalgam, which has a working temperature range of 50˚C to 70˚C, is used in the manufacturing of uncovered energy-saving fluorescent lamps or straight fluorescent lamps which have higher tube-wall temperatures. (e.g. 3U, helical lamp) . However, some of this type amalgam may not collect back the mercury when the lamp turns off.

    High Melting-point Amalgam, which has a working temperature range of 80˚C to 130˚C, is used in the manufacturing of covered lamps.

    What is the tolerance of the mercury dosing of amalgam and liquid mercury?
    Since the mercury content in the amalgam is determined by the ratio during the manufacturing process and the weight of the amalgam. The main tolerance of each amalgam is the difference of weight. The control of the diameter of the amalgam during the manufacturing process is the main reason affecting the weight of the amalgam. The following table shows the diameter of amalgam that we are using (our internal tolerance control is + 0.05mm).

    Diameter
    (mm) Tolerance
    (mm) Ideal volume
    (mm3) Lower limit of the volume
    (mm3) Upper limit of the volume
    (mm3) % difference between the lower limit and ideal volume % difference between the upper limit and the ideal volume
    1 ±0.05 0.5233 0.4487 0.6058 14.30% 15.80%
    1.1 ±0.05 0.6966 0.6058 0.7959 13.00% 14.30%
    1.3 ±0.05 1.1498 1.0221 1.2876 11.10% 12.00%
    1.4 ±0.05 1.436 1.2876 1.5954 10.30% 11.10%
    1.45 ±0.05 1.5954 1.436 1.7663 10.00% 10.70%
    1.55 ±0.05 1.9488 1.7663 2.1436 9.40% 10.00%
    1.65 ±0.05 2.3509 2.1436 2.5711 8.80% 9.40%
    1.8 ±0.05 3.0521 2.8047 3.3136 8.10% 8.60%

    Due to the mercury content is vary with the weight of the amalgam. Therefore, the maximum mercury dosing of using amalgam is + 15%.

    However, the mercury dosing of liquid mercury is controlled by the amount of the injection during the manufacturing therefore it is very difficult to control. The tolerance of liquid mercury dosing can be 50 – 100%.

    What is the mercury content of MEGAMAN CFLs?
      Mercury content (mg)
      Min. Max. Average
    1W 2 2 2
    3W 1.5 2 1.75
    4W 1 2 1.5
    5W 1 2 1.38
    6W 2 2 2
    7W 1 2 1.6
    8W 1.5 2 1.875
    9W 1.5 1.5 1.5
    10W 1.5 2 1.83
    11W 1 2 1.65
    12W 1.5 1.5 1.5
    13W 1.5 2 1.75
    15W 1 2 1.7
    18W 1 2 1.64
    20W 1 2 1.71
    23W 1 2 1.83
    25W 2 2 2
    26W 1 2 1.5
    27W 2 2 2
    28W 2 2 2
    30W 2 2 2

    What happens if amalgam is heated at atmospheric pressure (normal room conditions) firstly to 50C &then up to 100C?
    This experiment simulates what happens under extreme conditions. (e.gg. bright sunlight through a window in a closed space)

    The amalgam still can keep their form when it was heating at atmosphere pressure. The following experiment has tested the Medium Melting-point Amalgam by heating at 50˚C and 100˚C.

    Using a Thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA is a type of testing that is performed on samples to determine changes in weight in relation to change in temperature. Such analysis relies on a high degree of precision in three measurements: weight, temperature, and temperature change.) to analyze to a certain amount of amalgam at different temperatures to maintain a certain time. During the experiment, the airflow should be controlled. According to the weight changes before and after testing, it can obtain the weight loss of the amalgam at different temperatures. (Note: Because amalgam is an alloy of mercury and other metals, and the saturated vapor pressure of mercury is higher than other metals, therefore it can be assumed that all of weightlessness of amalgam is lost of mercury and other alloy composition is not lost. The actual weight of the tested amalgam from the TGA can calculate the loss of the amount of mercury and mercury released.)

    Experiment 1 (Heat up the amalgam at 50˚C):
    1. Place 4 pieces of Medium Melting-point Amalgam into the crucible of the TGA, the total weight were 56.529mg. Maintain the air flow and control the room pressure at 0.1Mpa
    2. Rise the temperature to 50˚C.
    3. If the temperature does not vary in 20 minutes then assume the temperature was steady. Maintain the steady temperature in 6 hours.
    4. During these 6 hours, monitor the changes of the weight of the amalgam and the temperatures of the crucible.

    Experiment 2 (Heat up the amalgam at 100˚C)
    Same procedures as experiment 1. The total weight were 56.429mg and the operating temperature was 100˚C)

    Assessment of the amount of mercury released from each amalgam which would be harmful to the environment: Assume that the mercury release in an ordinary bedroom, with the same amount of mercury. We can calculate the mercury released from each amalgam as per unit volume and compare with the limit of the national health standard.

    Condition No. of amalgam Weight of amalgam (mg) % of Mercury release Amount of mercury release (mg)
    @ 50˚C
    in 6hrs 4 56.529 0.003% 0.00170

    @ 100˚C
    in 6hrs 4 56.429 0.006% 0.00339

    Condition Area of bedroom m2 Height of bedroom m Volume of bedroom m3 Mercury content mg/m3 Standard limit mg/m3 Harmful?
    @ 50˚C
    in 6hrs 10.0 3.0 30.0 0.000014 0.01 No
    15.0 3.0 45.0 0.0000094 No
    20.0 3.0 60.0 0.0000071 No
    @ 100˚C
    in 6hrs 10.0 3.0 30.0 0.000028 0.01 No
    15.0 3.0 45.0 0.000019 No
    20.0 3.0 60.0 0.000014 No

    According to the above findings, when 4 Medium Melting-point amalgams were heating at 50˚C and 100˚C in 6 hours, the mercury release 0.00170mg and 0.00339mg respectively (equivalent of using 4 amalgam lamps); Transfer these mercury release figurers in an ordinary bedroom, the mercury released per unit volume was much lower than the national health standard requirements , 0.01mg/m3 (which was only 0.28% max. of the limit). In conclusion, the amount of the mercury released from the amalgam at 50˚C and 100˚C is negligible and there is no harm to the environment also.

    What happens if the CFL with amalgam breaks while the lamp is on? Does the mercury vapour get diffused or does it go back into the amalgam nevertheless?
    This would not be happened during normal operation but sometime accidental should also worthily to consider. The following experiment is the simulation of this condition.

    Medium Melting-point Amalgam and High Melting-point Amalgam were used to conduct test.

    The procedures are as follow:
    1. Use the “High-precision electronic balance to measure the weight of the amalgam before insert into the lamp tube.
    2. Burn the CFLs 2 hours then break the lamp tube by grip to collect the amalgam
    3. Measure the weight of the amalgam again and use ICP (Inductive Coupled Plasma Spectrometry Device) to analyze the mercury content in the amalgam.

    Results of Medium Melting-point amalgam:
    Sample no. Before burning After burning 2 hours Weight difference of amalgam Mercury loss
    (mg) % of mercury loss
    Weight of % of Mercury Weight of % of Mercury
    amalgam mercury content amalgam mercury content
    (mg) content (mg) (mg) content (mg)
    1 14.6 14.94% 2.18 14.3 13.50% 1.93 0.30 0.25 11.50%
    2 14.1 14.94% 2.11 14.1 14.50% 2.04 0.00 0.06 2.95%
    3 14.8 14.94% 2.21 14.5 14.10% 2.04 0.30 0.17 7.54%
    4 14.4 14.94% 2.15 14.2 14.40% 2.04 0.20 0.11 4.95%
    5 14.5 14.94% 2.17 14.4 14.70% 2.12 0.10 0.05 2.29%
    6 14.7 14.94% 2.20 14.6 14.20% 2.07 0.10 0.12 5.60%
    7 14.7 14.94% 2.20 14.6 14.80% 2.16 0.10 0.04 1.61%
    8 14.9 14.94% 2.23 14.8 14.30% 2.12 0.10 0.11 4.93%
    9 14.4 14.94% 2.15 14.2 13.70% 1.95 0.20 0.21 9.57%
    10 14.3 14.94% 2.14 14 13.90% 1.95 0.30 0.19 8.91%
    Average 14.54 14.94% 2.17 14.4 14.21% 2.04 0.17 0.13 5.98%

    Results of High Melting-point amalgam:
    Sample no. Before burning After burning 2 hours Weight difference of amalgam Mercury loss (mg) % of mercury loss
    Weight of % of Mercury Weight of % of Mercury
    amalgam mercury content amalgam mercury content
    (mg) content (mg) (mg) content (mg)
    1 18.70 4.38% 0.82 18.70 4.38% 0.82 0.00 0.000 0.00%
    2 19.20 4.38% 0.84 19.20 4.30% 0.83 0.00 0.015 1.83%
    3 19.50 4.38% 0.85 19.50 4.38% 0.85 0.00 0.000 0.00%
    4 19.90 4.38% 0.87 19.90 4.38% 0.87 0.00 0.000 0.00%
    5 20.40 4.38% 0.89 20.40 4.37% 0.89 0.00 0.002 0.23%
    6 20.40 4.38% 0.89 20.30 4.35% 0.88 0.10 0.010 1.17%
    7 20.70 4.38% 0.91 20.70 4.37% 0.90 0.00 0.002 0.23%
    8 21.00 4.38% 0.92 21.00 4.36% 0.92 0.00 0.004 0.46%
    9 21.90 4.38% 0.96 21.80 4.37% 0.95 0.10 0.007 0.68%
    10 23.40 4.38% 1.02 23.40 4.38% 1.02 0.00 0.000 0.00%
    Average 20.51 4.38% 0.90 20.49 4.36% 0.89 0.02 0.004 0.45%

    According to above data, a small portion of mercury would release when the lamp was broken during operation and nearly 95% (depends on the type of amalgam) was retained in solid form. High Melting-point amalgam would be more than 99% of mercury will be retained. The small amount of mercury release is far behind from the liquid mercury while breakage, because 100% of liquid mercury would be released from the lamp tube after the breakage during operation.

    How to handle the disposed liquid mercury CFLs?
    The fluorescent lighting tubes are brought directly from the collecting containers (boxes, rung pallets, grid boxes) into the crushing unit which breaks them down to broken glass of convenient piece size. Alternatively, already pre-crushed lamps are delivered in big bags and fed into the same process. The fluorescent material is cleaned off the broken lamps with water in a vibration basin.

    The fluorescent material and the mercury sediment in an inclined clarifier and the water is purified for return to the washing process circulation. The produced fluorescent powder slurry is distilled in our rotating tube and the mercury is recovered.

    Special screening processes separate the material flow of the washed crushed glass and metals into soda-lime glass, lead glass and end caps. The soda-lime glass is dried and then fed via an optical recognition system for quality assurance. The processed soda-lime glass is used for the production of new fluorescent lighting tubes and the metals are utilized as secondary raw materials. The special lamp units are broken down in a separate crusher and then fed to the broken glass washing process separated from the fluorescent lighting tubes.

    Does amalgam technology facilitate the sustainable recycling of these lamps?
    In its solid form, the mercury inside the amalgam can be collected, recycled and reused more readily. Since amalgam does not release mercury vapour when it is exposed under room temperature, it does not pose a health hazard to people or pollute the environment. Workers are also better protected when CFLs are manufactured with encapsulated mercury dosing technologies using amalgam, rather than traditional liquid mercury dosing methods.

    Any test procedure can simulate the conditions of amalgam after dispose to the environment?
    Yes, The Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) is designed to determine the mobility of both organic and inorganic analytics present in liquid, solid, and multiphase wastes.

    What does the TCLP Analysis Show?
    The TCLP analysis simulates landfill conditions. Over time, water and other liquids percolate through landfills. The percolating liquid often reacts with the solid waste in the landfill, and may pose public and environmental health risks because of the contaminants it absorbs. The TCLP analysis determines which of the contaminants identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are present in the soil & water and their concentrations.

    EPA-7470A is a method to determine the concentration of mercury in aqueous wastes, mobility-procedure abstracts, and ground water. It can also be used for analyzing certain solid and sludge-type wastes.

    This method is a cold-vapor atomic absorption technique, is based on the absorption of radiation at 253.7-nm by mercury vapor. The mercury is reduced to the elemental state and aerated from solution in a closed system. The mercury vapor passes through a cell positioned in the light path of an atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Absorbance (peak height) is measured as a function of mercury concentration.

    What is the maximum concentration of mercury for Toxicity Characteristic?
    0.2 mg/L

    What is the result of MEGAMAN CFLs?
    Our lamps were tested by 3rd party laboratory and the results were shown that the mercury release from the amalgam were below the limit 0.2mg/L from EPA. Therefore, it can prove that amalgam would not be harmful in the disposal stage no matter in water and soil.

    Our lamps can fulfill the requirement of EPA.

    Can consumers get the same or similar light quality with amalgam technology?
    Technological advancements have enabled modern compact fluorescent lamps to deliver excellent illumination performance with amalgam at minimal mercury levels (less than 2mg). This is far less mercury than in other common household items, for example batteries contain 5 to 25 mg, that is up to 10 times more mercury than a CFL. 0% Liquid mercury in CFL is therefore a cost effective and viable alternative today.

    Does the ambient temperature have a significant effect on the light output when using amalgam?
    For amalgam CFLs, the highest light output occurs above 40˚C. Serres and Taelman (1993) showed that the relative light output of some amalgam CFLs peaks at 45˚C. The same study showed that amalgam lamps maintain more than 90% of their light output in the –15 to +65˚C range, except for the region between 15 and 20˚C, where the light output drops to 88% (see Figure A below). Specifiers should consider the use of amalgams CFLs when temperature is likely to be above or below the optimum temperature for non-amalgam CFLs. For example, the temperature within an enclosed luminaire can be much higher than room temperature.

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