Aluminum can be 100% recycled. Secondary aluminum from recycled material, also known as green aluminum, cuts energy use in production by up to 90% compared with virgin material.
(To find out how aluminum recycling can save so much energy, read here.)
If recovered aluminum (recycled aluminum) is being used to produce new products, aluminum manufacturers need their secondary raw materials to display consistently high levels of purity. This challenge can often be met through sorting. Demand for aluminum for use as a lightweight, high-performance material is growing all the time. Aluminum is increasingly taking the place of conventional materials, such as steel, to save weight and therefore energy, especially in automotive engineering. This makes the recovery of this metal of ever greater interest as a value-creating process.
- Purity of sorted products, high selectivity and detection
- Ferrous and non-ferrous metals, separation with magnet and eddy-current technology
- Alloy detection, detection of heavy and light elements with x-ray technology
- Extended sorting of aluminum alloys, discrimination between cast and wrought alloy with laser technology (LIBS)
- Long lifetime of all sorting machine components
- All magnet and sensor sorting technology from a single supplier
Not all aluminum is the same
Aluminum scrap has a wide range of material compositions and fractions. It comes from a wide variety of built-in products and components. As alloy components, silicon, manganese, copper, zinc and magnesium increase the strength of the aluminum and determine the primary and secondary uses of plates, rods and tubes, etc. The composition of alloys also determines the ‘castability’ - which is an advantage for complex components such as alternators. The best castability is that of AlSi compounds (4000 class). In some cases, these also contain elements of Mg and Cu to increase strength.
Profiles, cans, plates etc. in wrought aluminum are normally low in alloy components and can be used in almost all secondary processes. In the mechanical recovery of wrought aluminum, the main task is separation of heavy metal components, which are exposed during shredding, e.g. by hammer mill or rotary shear.
Separating out iron
Firstly, magnets often separate the iron content out of the material flow. Magnets such as STEINERT BR and STEINERT UME overhead suspension magnets are often used for this purpose.
Dry-mechanical sorting using XRT (x-ray transmission)
For fractions of profiles, light aluminum scrap, wet mechanical separation of the free heavy metals and higher-alloy Al components (cast components) is generally not worthwhile in economic terms. In this case, our dry mechanical sorting by atomic density using the STEINERT XSS T EVO 5.0 x-ray sorting system is a reliable alternative or addition to sink/float separation for sorting higher-alloy aluminum and free heavy metals, thereby enabling aluminum purity levels of >99.5% to be obtained.
Recovering non-ferrous metals and aluminum
In the case of scrap aluminum from the auto shredder, this is often higher-alloyed material containing 4 to 12% silicon plus primarily copper and zinc. The greater the Si content, the less ductile the component, which will break up during shredding into many smaller pieces. We use this property in our solution and sort the non-ferrous product flow of the shredder in grain sizes e.g. 10 - 30 mm, 30 - 70 mm and 70 - 150 mm using a non-ferrous metal separator (STEINERT EddyC®) into the “ZORBA fraction”.
Recycling aluminum and sorting heavy metals
This mixture of light and heavy metals (separated by grain size) is now separated using x-ray technology (STEINERT XSS® T EVO 5.0) into aluminum and the mixed fraction of copper, brass, zinc, etc. This achieves a maximum yield and purity of aluminum and the material can be marketed in a defined quality, e.g. Al 224, or coarse grain sizes as Taint Tabor (mainly clean sheet goods) as well as premium fractions. Against a background of increasingly difficult export conditions and growing demand for qualities which can replace and supplement virgin material wherever possible, it is important to generate consistently high purities across all products.
Using LIBS technology to separate alloys
High-quality aluminum from product cycles and material recovery facilities with low alloy components, filler metals or light element content such as magnesium can be upgraded into very pure products using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). Our STEINERT LSS | LIBS sorts the objects by chemical composition with high isolation to meet your requirements by means of material separation and product discharge within the system. This solution gives secondary smelters the opportunity to use more secondary material and charge the smelt on the basis of alloys. The need to sort within alloy classes, e.g. between the 5000 and 6000 classes of wrought alloy commonly used in automotive engineering, places particularly stringent demands on the depth of analysis of detection. Here the main difference is in the magnesium and silicon content in the alloys, which determine the material properties relevant to the components. These days, the quantitative determination needed for these alloy components can be performed with the LIBS method and is already being used in industry. In principle, this can also be used to quantitatively determine all the alloy components of significance for the aluminum alloy groups 1000 to 7000.
A particular feature is the detection and separation of painted aluminum plates before smelting in order to remove traces of titanium dioxide or even lead and cadmium from the paint and coatings. Here our STEINERT KSS | NR CL analyses the material surface by colour, laser or infrared detection. The relevant items are separated off for separate treatment.
Input ZORBA 25 - 60 mm from shredder, sorted with STEINERT EddyC
Input ZORBA 60 to 120 mm from shredder, sorted with EddyC
Input ZORBA from STEINERT EddyC 10 - 40 mm for further sorting by KSS
Separated heavy metals from ZORBA
STEINERT XSS aluminium sorting
Al profiles 30 - 80 mm sorted with STEINERT XSST
Al profiles - product non-Fe metals
Al profiles - residual fraction
Input aluminium light aluminum scrap
Aluminium with Fe components
Aluminium heavy-light fraction
Recover non-ferrous metals and aluminum from ELV shredders
In the case of aluminum scrap from the car shredder, our customers sort the iron-free product stream from the shredder into grain sizes, e.g. 10 - 30 mm, 30 - 70 mm and 70 - 150 mm using a non-ferrous metal separator (STEINERT EddyC®) into the so-called ZORBA fraction.
This mixture of light and heavy metals is now separated according to grain size, using X-ray technology STEINERT XSS T EVO 5.0 in aluminum and the mixed fraction of copper, brass, zinc, etc. In this way, a maximum yield and purity of aluminum is achieved and the material can be marketed in a defined quality, e.g. B. Al 224 or coarse grains as Taint Tabor (mostly clean sheet metal) and premium fractions.
ZORBA from the auto shredder is a high-quality mixture of light and heavy metals. By separating it into clean aluminum with the STEINERT XSS and sorting the heavy metals, a maximum material value can be obtained and the marketing of the product managed. If necessary the individual heavy metals can be sorted into the individual fractions Cu, Ms, Z, commingled waste and alloys using the STEINERT KSS.
Aluminum can waste originating from mixed collection and packaging. This material also contains proportions of contaminants and heavy metals that can be sorted out using eddy current separators (STEINERT EddyC®) and x-ray technology (STEINERT XSS T) to improve purity. In addition, the material is normally shredded, screened and then sorted.