This work describes a novel approach for melting municipal solid waste incinerator (MSWI) fly ash, based on self-propagating reactions, by using energy-efficient simulated waste-derived thermite The. self-propagating characteristics, the properties of the recycled alloy and slag and the partitioning of heavy metals during the process are also studied. Experimental results demonstrate that the mix ratio of fly ash to the starting mixture of less than 30% supports the development of the self-propagating reaction with a melting temperature of 1350-2200 degrees C. Furthermore, metallic iron (or alloy) and the slag were retrieved after activation of the thermite reactions among the starting mixtures. It was noted that more than 91 wt.% of iron was retrieved as alloy and the rest of non-reductive oxides as slag. During the thermite reactions, the partition of heavy metals to the SFA and flue gas varied with the characteristics of the target metals: Cd was mainly partitioned to flue gas (75-82%), and partition slightly increased with the increasing fly ash ratio; Pb and Zn, were mainly partitioned to the SFA, and the partition increased with increasing fly ash ratio; Cu was partitioned to the SFA (18-31%) and was not found in the flue gas; and moreover stable Cr and Ni were not identified in both the SFA and flue gas. On the other hand, the determined TCLP leaching concentrations were all well within the current regulatory thresholds, despite the various FA ratios. This suggests that the vitrified fly ash samples were environmental safe in heavy metal leaching. The results of this study suggested that melting of municipal solid waste incinerator fly ash by waste-derived thermite reactions was a feasible approach not only energy-beneficial but also environmental-safe. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.