Have you ever thought about the importance of the metal recycling process? When considering our regular day to day life metals play an important role in it. Various types of metals are used for various purposes such as; manufacturing cars, trains, trucks, railway tracks, airplanes, ships, white goods, cooking items and equipment, pots, cutlery, containers and many more. Theses metals we use belong to two categories. They are ferrous and nonferrous. Considering these two types, ferrous metals are made out of iron and steel while copper, aluminum, and brass are nonferrous metals.
Steel can be recycled 100% and it is considered as the highest recyclable material on the planet per ton. To separate ferrous materials out of nonferrous materials is relatively easy when compared with the separation of different plastic materials because of the magnetic properties owned by steel.
The recycling process of scrap metal is a very important process that helps powerful industries. It can be done by using metal products and structures which have ended their lifetime and also from scrap metals that are removed at the manufacturing stage as scraps. These metals are utilized as raw materials for new metal products. They can be recycled again and again without any degradation of their properties. In the metal recycling process not only it reduces energy consumption and offers a very low carbon footprint but also provides raw materials for the steel product manufacturing process.
How to Recycle Metal?-Before talking about the metal recycling process…
The metal recycling process has four phases. First, you have to go to a scrap yard to gather metals where the metals are gathered in separate bins. All the nonferrous items which have iron or steel parts in them are considered as scrap steel. After that, these scrap steel collectors sell the steel they gathered too much larger collectors where they shred those and melt in heaters at high temperatures to deliver metal blocks, sheets or ingots. These recycled metals are sold to metal product manufactures.
Following is the detailed metal recycling process.
1. Collecting the scrap metal
The initial phase of the metal recycling process is the gathering of every single metal items. It is the most important process in metal recycling. People are throwing away various types of scrap metal items such as; alloy or steel wheels, radiators, roller shutters, white goods, kitchen items, bicycle batteries, and many other irons or steal items.
There are metal collecting containers built specifically to collect these metal scraps. Some individuals, as well as businessmen, have their own scrap yards and they are encouraging people to bring their various types of metal parts by offering money for their scrap metals. Since the demand for recycled metals is so high these days, the scrap metal price has gone up too. The money offers varies according to the metal type. These yards s are known as scrap metal collecting centers.
2. Sorting the scrap metal
After collecting these steel items the next step is to sort them separately. First, the scrap items are separated in the way of recyclable items and nonrecyclable items. The most important thing is the quality of the metal after recycling. You only get a high-quality recycled metal if you use good quality raw materials for recycling in the first place. To get good quality raw materials for the recycling process, the sorting process of the scrap metal is done under a strict quality checking up.
After completing the sorting process the next step taken is squeezing or crushing/compacting the scrap metal. The first thing happens in the scrap metal processing factory is crushing the scrap metals, so it is much easier to handle them on conveyor belts. Large machines are used to crush and then squeeze the scrap metals to reduce the space taken in the conveyor belts.
After the crushing and breaking processes of the scrap metal, the next thing happens is shredding them into small pieces or sheets. In the shredding process, the crushed metals are broken into small pieces using a hammer. They usually shred them into pieces in the size of a hand. The surface to volume ratio of these small shredded pieces is much larger. The advantage of this is the low energy consumption level taken to melt the small pieces than the large pieces. The normal process is changing steel into blocks of steel and changing aluminum into aluminum sheets.
After the above process, the next process is to separate the shredded metals into ferrous and nonferrous metal types. For that, they use a magnetic drum and the shredded metals are kept between the drums. A 550°C hot air blower is there to blow away the nonmetallic materials such as plastic and paints between the shredded metal scraps. It also acts as a vacuum to suck the impurities in the metal parts.
The subsequent stage is to dissolve the different types of scrap metal pieces in huge heaters. Heaters are specially designed for each metal according to the type of metal and its properties. To make them eco-friendly and less energy-consuming the heaters have fuel-efficient regenerative. To maintain an even temperature as well as an even composition everywhere these heaters consist of jet stirrers that have the power to circulate the metal in the heater. As a result of this stirring process, you can get an end product with the highest quality.
When considering the energy taken for melting the metal it is somewhat higher. But when comparing the energy taken to melt recycling metal with the energy taken to create metal using original raw materials the recycling metal energy consumption is considerably low. First, the heaters are heated to a temperature suitable for melting of metals. The melting time is determined by the size of the furnace, the exact volume owned by the metals inside the heater and the temperature level of the heater. It might take minutes or maybe hours.
The next step after the melting of the scrap metal is purifying the melted metal. There are various methods for purifying the metal. The main purpose of the metal purification is to remove the impurities in the metal, so you can get a good quality end product. One method of metal purification is the electrolysis method. This method is suitable for some metals.
When they are in the melted liquid condition, the liquid metals are further purified by using electrolysis named ‘Eddy current’. This purification process is normally done before the process of molding the liquid metal into different types of molds. These molds vary according to the metal type and after the purification process, the liquid metal is being cooled.
The purification method used for other metals is sending them through a high-power magnetic system, so the metal will be separated from the nonmetal impurities. When it comes to the present world there are so many metal purification methods and those methods are allocated according to the type of metal.
The next process after the metal purification is the solidification process. To solidify the molten metals it is delivered by a conveyor belt towards a cooling chamber and where the molten metal is cooled and also solidified too. This the stage where the scrap metal is converted into solid metal, so you can use that metal again. To achieve the required properties as well as required density levels various types of chemicals are added to the molten metal. The size, shape, and design of the metal are determined and made at the cooling stage.
After the metals are made they should be transported to the different plants and to the people where they can manufacture various types of metal products. For that, once the final solidified metal bars were out they were packed according to their size and shape requirements and transported. At the metal product manufacturing factory the beginning of the metal cycle occurs again.
Usually, people are purchasing so many canned foods, canned drinks, and much other canned stuff. After utilizing them they throw them into the garbage. Using these used cans (nearly 1.5 million per ingot) huge aluminum ingots are created in the scrap metal process factory, each weighing around 18 tons. Then the scrap metal processing factory sends these ingots to the mills. At the mills, the ingots are rolled into thin sheets and sold to aluminum can manufacturers to manufacture new cans.
Apart from the energy cost from the recycling process the energy consumption of the metal recycling process low compared with the original metal making process using the raw materials. As for an example, if you make steel out of recycled cans, the energy utilization for that process is 75% lower than the steelmaking process using original raw materials.
Importance of the Metal Recycling Process
Some people don’t have any idea the metal they are using every day can be recycled. Some people know about that and don’t give a care. So they throw the metal leaving them to rot. If you can understand the benefits you can get from the metal you will never throw them away or let them rot with rusts again. Below you can see the benefits you can get from the metal recycling process.
1. Protects and save natural resources
Natural resource preservation is one of the main advantages you can get from metal recycling. To produce metal, several resources should get from the earth from mining. Metal is an excavated compound from the earth. With the time these excavating areas become depleted and due to the lack of metals the miners have to move to other areas to find metal from the earth. This process never ends and from time to time miners move to new places leaving the old places.
Those old areas are left with huge mining holes. By practicing the metal recycling process this problem can be controlled. Therefore; metal producers do not have to go around mining metal from the Earth. That is because they already have metal with them to reproduce. This way both the environment and the natural resources are protected.
2. Emission Reduction
Global warming happens because of the constant increase in the emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Even though we can’t mend destruction done up to now including global warming and ozone layer destroying we can control, or we can try to stop the further damages. One way this can be done by practicing the recycling process regularly for metals and all the other recyclable solid wastes.
3. Development of the Economy
The metal mining process is a lot of money costing process. If a government practice the metal recycling process they can save a huge amount of o money which they spend on the metal mining process. They can use the saved money for some other development programs which can increase the living standard of the people in the country. Not only the government can use recycled metals but also they can export recycled metals. From that, they can earn more revenues to develop the living standards of the citizens.
4. Energy consumption reduction
When comparing the energy level taken to recycle metals with the energy consumption of metal producing using natural resources, the metal recycling energy consumption is rather low. When using the metal recycling process you can save more energy and you can use them to some other purpose. Also with the growing demand for the metal recycling process has reduced the attention given for natural resources. This is a good advantage when considering energy saving.
5. Money Saver
This is a long term and a most forgotten benefit. If you practice the metal recycling process it will save more energy because you don’t have to produce metals using natural resources. The actual cost of the metal will go down because of this scenario and it will be a big relief to your pocket when you are buying metal items.
Metal is a very important resource in our day to day lives. By recycling metals, we can save our natural resources because we don’t have to mine them to make steel since we can recycle and get the steel we want. Also, the recycling process helps to reduce water pollution and greenhouse gasses occur because of the steel making process using raw materials and reduce the metal dumping for landfilling purposes. The most remarkable benefit is the considerable amount of energy-saving happens because of the metal recycling process when compared with the metal making process using raw materials. It saves our environment and the economy also.