Sulphur

Sulphur is a by-product in industries where gas and oil are burned. The quantities are large.

Table 12.1 Industrial by-products in the building industry

By-product

Orgin

Areas of use

Industrial gypsum

Zinc works, oil- and coal-fired power station, brick production, production of artificial fertilizer

Plasterboard; plasters; Portland cement

Sulphur

Oil- and gas-fired power station, oil refineries

Sulphur-based render; sulphur-based concrete; paper production

Silicate dust

Production of ferro-silica and silicon dioxide

Reinforcement in concrete products; pozzolana

Blast furnace slag

Iron foundries

Pozzolana; thermal insulation (slag wool)

Fly ash

Coal-, oil- and gasfired power stations

Pozzolana

Fossil meal

Oil refineries

Pozzolana; thermal insulating aggregate in render and concrete

Fibreous cellulose sludge

Cellulose production

Fibre composites

Sulphur has been used for a long time in the building industry to set iron in concrete, e.g. for setting banisters in a staircase. At the end of the nineteenth century the first sulphur concrete blocks came onto the market. Sulphur is also an important raw material in the production of ammonium sulphate and aluminium sulphate. Ammonium sulphate is a flame retardant and aluminium sulphate a fungicide much used in plant-based insulation materials.

Sulphur has a melting point of a little less than 120 °C, and when melted binds well with many different materials. It can replace other materials used in casting such as Portland cement. Sulphur concrete is waterproof and resistant to salts and acids.

As the temperature for working molten sulphur is low there is probably little risk of the emission of hazardous doses of either hydrogen sulphide or sulphur dioxide, though even the slightest emission of the former gives a strong unpleasant smell. The workplace should be well ventilated. Sulphur burns at 245 °C, and large quantities of sulphur dioxide are emitted. Under normal circumstances there is little risk of the material igniting.

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