Environmental Engineering Program


First Advisor

Bruce Irwin Dvorak

Date of this Version



Ghormley, S.K. (2017) "Life Cycle Assessment in Foundry Sand Reclamation – Comparison of Secondary Reclamation Processes," Thesis presented to the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Environmental Engineering.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Environmental Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Bruce Irwin Dvorak. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Samuel K. Ghormley


Foundries represent a significant part of the base of the world’s economy and as a sector are one of the largest consumers of energy and producers of solid waste in the United States. Sand casting foundries use approximately 5-10% of their total energy on sand handling processes. By adding a secondary sand reclamation process, foundries can expect to become more energy efficient as well as reducing solid waste from the foundry. To measure the broader environmental impacts, life cycle assessment (LCA) can be used. The goal of the current research was to examine a medium-sized foundry in the United States that sources its sand from a long distance away by using LCA techniques. A comparison was made between a sand reclamation train model without any secondary sand reclamation, secondary reclamation using a mechanical process, a thermal process, and a microwave process. An economic, energy balance, and full LCA analysis was conducted for each of these processes. It was found that in addition to being economically beneficial, the life cycle environmental impacts were also less for processes that included secondary reclamation. In eight of ten measured categories adding a secondary reclamation process reduced the environmental impact of the foundry. When comparing mechanical and thermal mechanisms for secondary reclamation it was found that thermal processes were more energy intensive at the foundry, but due to their lower sand requirements their overall life cycle impacts are less than the mechanical reclamation model. It was determined that varying the transportation distance in the model created the largest change in the associated outputs for all processes.

Advisor: Bruce I. Dvorak