Scrap Recycling - advanced metal separation with REDWAVE XRF/C.

28. June 2018 // News,

New sorting possibilities for the Metal and Aluminium Recycling Industry.


Global increasing demand for metals, rising metal prices as well as China‘s policy ban on imports are proving to be positive factors for the profitableness of metal recycling. Especially the interest in the XRF sorting technology still increases and makes metal recycling even more attractive and profitable.

Recycling of metal and aluminum knows no limits because it can be remelted as scrap indefinitely. Metals, however have to be separated from non-metallic impurities, and different metals have to be sorted in pure fractions to be used as secondary raw materials substituting primary resources. Especially when it comes to aluminum a lot of energy can be saved when remelting scrap aluminum. By using secondary raw materials in the production of aluminum, the energy-intensive electrolysis process is eliminated, thereby reducing the total energy consumption to below 10 percent compared to primary production. Furthermore, mining of many ores for primary production occurs in politically unstable regions. On another note ore mining and the processes that follow can produce tailings and leave toxic residues such as “red mud” behind.

Global demand for ferrous and nonferrous metals is increasing each year. Industrial production in all areas of daily life devours an enormous quantity of aluminum and other nonferrous metals, including copper, brass, nickel, tin, zinc and lead. ZORBA a scrap metal grade consisting predominantly of aluminum and also contains other non-ferrous metals such as copper, zinc, brass, stainless steel. Most of Zorba produced in Europe and USA was exported to China as separate mixed aluminum and mixed heavy metal fraction. However, more and more Zorba is expected to stay within Western countries as a result of China‘s policy ban on imports, rising labor costs in China and surplus of primary aluminum in China as well as improved sorting technologies. With the possibility to use sensor-based sorting, separating mixed heavy metals becomes possible as well as inexpensive. Also the mixed aluminum fraction can be further separated with sensor-based sorting.

REDWAVE XRF/C sorting technology

In contrast to near-infrared and camera technology, the REDWAVE XRF/C enables the detection of the elemental composition. The combination of XRF and camera technology in the new, innovative “free-fall design” opens absolutely new opportunities in sorting technology and is a significant competitive advantage compared to other sorting technologies available on the market.

A REDWAVE XRF/C unit has the advantage of being able to identify and sort not only heavy metals from Aluminum in shredder streams but also sort the individual heavy metals (copper, brass, stainless, etc.) and the different grades of Aluminum based on alloy grades based on copper, zinc, etc. (356.1 vs. A380 for example). Furthermore, the unit is capable of separating individual alloys from each other (e.g. 316 and 317 from 304 or several brass and bronze alloys). Our innovative free-fall configuration allows for sorting a greater mix of metals with fewer processing steps while still producing a very high level of sorted purity. The nonferrous scrap is being processed at throughputs rates of up to 15 tph making the payback period window amazing in most scenarios.

The combination of camera and XRF sensors not only provides the option of qualitative analysis, i.e., identification of the element concerned, it also allows for quantitative analysis, which indicates the proportion or percentage of each element included in the material.


WHY 3-way sorting

An REDWAVE XRF machine is capable of sorting aluminum alloys based on their zinc and/or copper content. Taking Zorba as example, it is possible to sort in 3 different aluminum categories: one low zinc low copper fraction compatible with semi prime foundry alloys such as 356.1, one high copper high zinc fraction compatible with regular die casting alloys such as Din 226 (or A380 in the USA) and one fraction with medium contents of zinc and copper compatible with piston alloys. REDWAVE calls this process 3-way-sorting.

By sorting Zorba with the 3-way-sorting strategy an aluminum stream (low copper low zinc) compatible with some wrought alloys can be obtained. This stream has a Zn and Cu level of around 0,10 % to 0,2 % with Si at around 1,0 to 1,5 %. It can be used in several 6xxx series alloys and would lower the cost for (automotive) sheet significantly. This would mean that automotive sheet, a product nowadays mostly made of primary aluminum, can be produced using scrap aluminum, resulting in enormous energy and money savings and a green footprint. This (Zorba-) scrap is already available at an extent of around 4 million tons (North-America and Europe combined) and will be increasing as the average aluminum content in cars constantly rose in the past 15 years and furthermore, will be rising even more in future cars (e.g. F 150 from Ford with 490 kg aluminum). 

Test the efficiency

In order to give customers the opportunity to be able to test out this technology in actual running operation and with their own materials on site, two rental machines have been manufactured that are constantly in use by customers. The customer is given the opportunity to test the quality of the sorting machine without obligation.

Industry leader in XRF sorting technology:

This new innovate sorting solution has already been successfully implemented in various sorting lines and plants worldwide. There the sorting of ZORBA, ZURIK and non-ferrous metals has been brought to a new level. Currently, REDWAVE is the only supplier of this unique technology worldwide.This new innovate sorting solution has already been successfully implemented in various sorting lines and plants worldwide. There the sorting of ZORBA, ZURIK and non-ferrous metals has been brought to a new level. Currently, REDWAVE is the only supplier of this unique technology worldwide.


Metal Recycling with REDWAVE XRF/C – How does it work? See the video!

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