MeWa Recycling Anlagen

Equipment Spotlight

Separation systems

In 2007 the United States recycling industry processed 1.8 million tons of computers and other electronics. The stream includes valuable materials such as plastic, glass, steel and precious metals, but also less desirable matter such as lead from computer monitors and harmful chemicals contained in circuit boards and other components. Separating the good from the bad is, therefore, a major challenge for electronics recyclers.

Dennis Ciccotelli, sales manager for Steinert US in Clearwater, Florida said Steinert’s equipment for separating electronic scrap differs from equipment for other types of processing primarily in the equipment’s width. “In some cases we’re using two and three-meter wide systems for auto processing. We have machines that go down to a half-meter wide that are being used for e-scrap,” he said. Steinert’s systems are essentially modular that can be changed to fit requirements, for instance, for different power needs or corrosion resistance.

Steinert uses neodymium overband magnets to separate ferrous materials from shredded e-scrap. “We take out the non-ferrous using high performance eddy current separators,” he added. “Then we’ll use a suite of sensor sorting machines that use air pulses to eject particles based on what the sensor identifies.” In addition to all-metal sensors, Steinert employs selective sensors that can tell one metal from another. “We use x-ray sensors and color sorters to determine the color of an item and also whether or not it is metal. That helps us remove copper from aluminum, for instance,” Ciccotelli said.

E-scrap separation systems have improved significantly in recent years. “The magnets have gotten better. The eddy current systems have gotten more capable of separating smaller materials and the sensor sorters are more sophisticated and do a better job of separating and detecting materials,” said Ciccotelli. “And the machines have shown themselves to be more durable and able to operate for years and years in this environment.”

Andela Products, Ltd.

Andela Products Ltd. in Richfield Springs, New York, sells separation systems for recycling cathode ray tubes. President Cynthia Andela said that often CRTs are disassembled and glass is separated from plastics and metal. Andela’s 20-foot self-contained CRT recycling system then crushes the glass portion and separates it from the metal frames. Front and back layers of the glass are then crushed and separated. After the glass is broken, Andela uses an electromagnet to remove the ferrous metal in the shadowmask. Further downstream, the systems employ eddy currents as well as additional magnets.

John Andela said the self-contained recycling system allows recyclers to process CRTs at high volume. “With ours you can put them on a conveyor belt and they go through at 600 per hour, one every 6 seconds,” he said. “It’s also environmentally enclosed, so you have a safe system for people to work with.”

At Shred-Tech in Cambridge, Ontario, Sean Richter, senior technical salesman, said the company’s customers typically run e-scrap through a primary shredder, then manually remove larger metal items such as stainless steel shafts on a pick line. Then they send it through a secondary shredder prior to additional separation. “Right after the primary shred, you could also be using cross belt magnets or magnetic head pulleys,” he said. “Then we send it to eddy current to get the aluminum out. You’ll have a fairly clean stream of aluminum. Then you’ll have a mixed stream of red metals with some plastics in there.” An all-metal sorter removes primarily red metals, leaving primarily plastic.

The company has built several large ES6000 e-scrap recycling systems, but demand today is for smaller machines such as its ES1000. That is because of an emphasis on removing larger metal objects before shredding. “They do some manual disassembly up front so they don’t need as large a system,” said Richter. “They can still get fantastic throughputs of two to three tons per hour with a much smaller system and end up with some fairly clean material streams.”

SSI Shredding Systems, Inc.

At SSI Shredding Systems, Inc in Wilsonville, Oregon, industrial sales specialist Dave Fleming said the company’s systems process consumer-type items such as PCs and personal printers as well as heavier items such as copiers, office printers, medical devices, servers, telecom equipment and appliances. The challenges in the market include the fact that both material streams have both high and low value commodities. A key objective is to separate these materials while reducing labor costs. A secondary challenge has been to process high capacities of up to 15 tons per hour or more, Richter said.

SSI PRIMAX reducers and QUAD shredders used with magnetic and eddy current separators are the most common machinery in this application. Current customers are pushing for versatility and higher capacity machines. “Many buyers today are telling me that due to the back-end commodity prices they now need to process three to four times more material to generate the same revenue streams they experienced last year at this time,” Richter said.

E-scrap has held up better than other recycling fields, such as autos, and makers expect that to be maintained. “As the level of public and political awareness continues to grow in the coming years, this market will continue to blossom,” Richter said.