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Equipment Spotlight Feature Article   Catalytic Converter Shears

E-maiil the author

Manufacturer List

Lance Industries, LLC
Tamarand Campbell

SEDA Environmental
Josh Baildon

Strip Technology, Inc.
Kirk Adkison

Supershear, Inc.
Larry Demik

North America processes nearly 12 million cars and light trucks each year for recycling. Among other materials, ferrous and nonferrous metals are removed from the vehicles. One component of that metal removal is a well-known income-producer for companies in the auto recycling industry – the catalytic converter or “cat.”

When catalytic converters were first integrated into autos as a way to reduce emissions and brown clouds in large cities, they were disliked. They started fires, reduced gas mileage, limited a car’s use of leaded fuel, and resulted in auto exhaust that smelled of rotten eggs. Almost 40 years later, converters have become a commodity kept under lock and key in recycling yards where they are harvested.

Originally, the removal of a converter could be done in one of three ways: the use of a torch, a Sawzall, or a complete removal of the exhaust system. As the recycling value of the catalytic converter was realized, a need arose for a more efficient removal method, so that an increase in revenue from vehicles being recycled could be realized.

In the late 1980s, Supershear patented a machine designed to remove the converter quickly, safely and economically. “Since that time, it has become the machine of choice for high volume auto recyclers. Powered by one of three hydraulic models, the guillotine-style cutting head of the Supershear produces 15,000 lbs. of force at the cutting tip. Removal of a catalytic converter takes less than 60 seconds. We offer three models for recyclers to choose from: gas, 12 volt DC, and 110/220 AC. As the Environmental Protection Agency moves processing yards to use environmental racks, the most popular model has become the 110/220 AC,” stated Larry Demik, company owner.

Supershear also offers a “decanner.” The machine gives recycling yards the means to remove the catalyst from catalytic converters and send it directly to the processors. The catalyst is the material inside the converter that actually removes the harmful gases that are created when gas or diesel fuel is burned.

The decanner cuts the converter in half and helps in the removal of the catalyst. The machine allows high-volume facilities to become more profitable because of the reduced processing time it provides. The decanner utilizes a guillotine-style cutting head, which has the ability to cut a converter in half within seconds.

According to Demik, “This machine has been well received by those who have the capability to operate it, and is a clean and efficient way to collect the catalyst. We opened for business 22 years ago, and we now service recycling yards around the globe. Customer service is our number one priority. We maintain a large inventory of parts and possess a vast knowledge of the technology needed to support our machines. We pride ourselves in keeping your Supershears cutting.”

Josh Baildon is sales manager at catalytic converter shear distributor SEDA. “Our new catalytic converter cutter is labeled as the SEDA SLC24. The cutter weighs just 33 lbs. and has a max cutting force of 118,800 lbs. This makes it the most powerful cutter on the market, given its size. The unit operates using a mineral-based hydraulic fluid and is powered using either a 110 or 120 volt electric motor or a 3 hp gas motor,” Baildon said. The SLC24 also features an interchangeable cutter blade, available in a 4” or 5” option. Both blades offer a narrow construction to allow access to tight catalytic converter cavities.

Baildon said the removal of catalytic converters is always a challenge for recyclers. “As a high-value vehicle component, converters must be removed from all automobiles and this can sometimes be a challenging task. The traditional route for removing cats has been an electric sawing tool or a torch. A Sawzall can be an effective tool, but it is slow and replacement blades can get very expensive. It can also be a fire hazard due to the potential for sparks. The tool can also create flying shards of metal, which can be hazardous to the operator. The torch can be a very dangerous tool, as there is always a high risk of injury when combining gas fumes and a potential igniter. So, there is a large increase in cutters being sold to recyclers – especially as the need for efficiency and safety increase, the products become even more popular,” he said. Baildon added, “As a United States-based operation, we felt the need to partner ourselves with other U.S.-based manufacturers to improve service, lower costs and ensure that we offer the U.S. recycling market the products that it needs.”