Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 1723–1737 | Cite as

Environmental and economic impact assessment of the alumina–carbon refractory production in China

  • Yuzhou Tang
  • Yifei Shi
  • Yue Li
  • Xueliang YuanEmail author
  • Ruimin MuEmail author
  • Qingsong Wang
  • Qiao Ma
  • Jinglan Hong
  • Shensong Cao
  • Jian Zuo
  • Jon Kellett
Original Paper


Continuous casting technology is extensively used in steel production. Refractory materials made from alumina–carbon (Al2O3–C) are integral to the continuous casting process to ensure high-quality steel product. However, the production of Al2O3–C refractory material itself is the source of a range of environmental problems. Life cycle assessment and life cycle cost methods are applied to compare and analyze the environmental impact and economic cost of the Al2O3–C refractory production process in a Chinese factory. The study analyzes the environmental impact and financial cost of Al2O3–C refractory production in the “cradle-to-gate” system boundary. Monte Carlo simulation was used in uncertainty analysis to ensure the credibility of the study. The results indicate that the key environmental impact categories of Al2O3–C refractory production are: freshwater eutrophication, human toxicity, freshwater ecotoxicity, marine ecotoxicity, and natural land transformation. The batching and coal gas preparation processes are the key processes with remarkable environmental impact. They make up 69.5% and 13.5% of the environmental impact load of the Al2O3–C refractory production separately. Sintered corundum and coal are the key materials with significant environmental impact. They constitute 44.4% and 11.3% of the total environmental impact load, respectively. Sensitivity analysis shows that the batching process has a higher optimization priority than the coal gas preparation process. The findings point toward more sustainable methods to manufacture for Al2O3–C refractory materials.

Graphic abstract


Alumina–carbon refractory Life cycle assessment Economic cost analysis Process optimization Monte Carlo simulation 



This research is supported by Shandong Provincial Key R&D Plan (2018GSF121005), Shandong Natural Science Foundation (ZR2019MEE104, ZR2019MG009), and The Fundamental Research Fund of Shandong University (2018JC049, 2018GN046).

Supplementary material

10098_2019_1741_MOESM1_ESM.docx (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Energy and Power EngineeringShandong UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.School of Municipal and Environmental EngineeringShandong Jianzhu UniversityJinanChina
  3. 3.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringShandong UniversityJinanChina
  4. 4.School of Life SciencesShandong UniversityQingdaoChina
  5. 5.School of Architecture and Built EnvironmentThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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