Understanding the Step-by-step Process of Scrap Metal Recycling

18 March 2015
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Selling your scrap metal to a scrap metal recycler (such as Raw Metal Corp) is more than just a means of making some extra cash; it is also your way of contributing towards eco-friendly management of waste material. However, you might not know the processes that your scrap metal is taken through before it is transformed into raw material for used for making new metal products such as auto body parts, cooking pans, railway tracks, and insulated roof panels. Because of that, the following points will explain to you some of the key steps involved in the process of scrap metal recycling.

Step 1: Sorting

Most of the time, scrap metal arrives in recycling plants as junk, which comprises a range of different metal elements including iron, aluminium, steel, tin, brass, and copper mixed together with other non-metal materials. Therefore, the very first thing that recyclers do is to separate the various metal elements from the rest of the junk.  That can be easily achieved using crane-trucks attached with large magnets since most metals have magnetic properties.

Step 2: Crushing

Large metal crushers are used to break down scrap metal into smaller sizes so that constituent metal elements can be separated. Likewise, impurities such as plastic, rubber, wood, and glass are crushed so small that they can also be easily taken out.

Step 3: Shredding

Shredding of scrap metal occurs after it has been crushed. In essence, involves cutting and pressing of thicker scrap metal. It allows the metal to be broken down into small pieces or sheets to increase the ease with which it is processed further. The reduced size is important because it provides a large surface area requisite for energy-efficient melting of metal. While aluminium can be rolled into sheets, you will have to make blocks or ingots when dealing with steel.

Step 4: Melting

To melt metal, a large furnace is utilised because of the high temperatures required to convert them from solid to molten state. Every metal element is put in a specially built furnace according to the chemical properties of the element. At this stage, large quantities of energy may be consumed. Nonetheless, the amount of energy consumed to melt scrap metal is still lower than that used to process mined metal elements.

Step 5: Purification

The final step involved in the recycling of scrap metal is its purification. The superheated metal is purified using different electrolytic methods. The purified metal is then hauled to metal mills as sheets or blocks ready to be converted into brand new metal items.