Steel may contain the most recycled metal globally, but other metals also get highly recycled such as brass, aluminium, and copper. Metal recycling has become common in recent years due to its manufacturing and environmental benefits. The best scrap yards have modern equipment that can identify, sort, and smelt the inventory appropriately. Large facilities have their in-house programs for management of the waste pile. If a business has enough expertise and knowledge, it may acquire its metal recycling machine. Here’s a closer look at the scrap metal recycling process:
Magnetic-Identification and Assessment
This is perhaps the most critical part of the scrap metal recycling process. It helps you distinguish between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Ferrous metals stick to the magnet, while non-ferrous metals do not. Popular ferrous metals are iron and steel. These are common and more affordable, but most scrap dealers will still take them nevertheless. Non-ferrous metals such as aluminium and copper are rarer, so they are more expensive than other metals. Some of their benefits include their light weight, higher conductivity and corrosion resistance.
The sorting method is determined by many factors, among them the size and weight of the metal. Whether in large scale or small-scale sorting, the strategy is to have a container for each type of metal. Density or manual sorting is popular, but it can sometimes be replaced by the economic and more practical sensor-based sorting system. Colour-detecting camera technology can also be used in some instances, specifically for brass and copper. However, this technology is not applicable for stainless steels, lead, zinc, nickel and other grey heavy metals.
Processing and Shredding
Processing is about squeezing and squashing the metal so that it occupies minimal space on the conveyor belts. This is followed by shredding to create small pieces ready for the next step. Cutting the metal into smaller pieces creates a large surface area-volume ratio, so less energy is spent melting stage.
Melting and Purification
A large furnace pays homage to the small pieces. While a sizeable amount of energy is used at this stage, take note that it is much less compared to the manufacture of metal from raw materials. Since metals have different specific properties, it is essential to make sure each metal is put in the right furnace. Purification is a crucial step to get rid of all impurities for the best performance. Some methods are applicable in this stage, but the most popular one is electrolysis. Depending on the metal type, even simple exposure to a powerful magnet could work
Cooling and Solidifying
Still, in the molten state, the metal goes to a special chamber for cooling and solidifying purposes. The final product will be generated at this stage. Chemicals may be added to the metal to achieve the desired properties, such as density and malleability.
Scrap metal recycling is important as metal is a scarce resource. The process is systematic with inspection, quality checks and careful analysis characterising every step. The properties of the recycled metal are also controlled for quality, regulatory, and safety compliance.