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Metal Analysis and its Importance in the Scrap Metal Industry

Now that Veganuary is over, and people have restored their carnivorous ways, it becomes timely to revisit the issue of climate crisis and sustainability. We all have to do our part in order to create a better future for us, our children and the planet. This means that we are looking at new ways of contributing to a sustainable and renewable way of living. We can all do our bit in simple steps, with recycling now becoming the modern-day trend. Most people are aware that they can recycle paper and glass bottles, however, may not be aware that they can also recycle metal. There’s no need to throw it straight in a landfill.

Perhaps you’re more familiar with the term scrap. Well, scrap is totally recycled and unlike most other recyclable materials it actually has monetary value because of the high demand for it. In fact, the metals recycling industry is so important it can have an extremely beneficial impact on organisations and the environment.

The Benefits of Scrap Metal Recycling

According to research conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency, recycling scrap metals can improve our environment. Using recycled scrap metal in place of virgin iron ore can yield:

  • 75% savings in energy
  • 90% savings in raw materials used
  • 86% reduction in air pollution
  • 40% reduction in water use
  • 76% reduction in water pollution
  • 97% reduction in mining wastes

Every ton of new steel made from scrap steel saves:

  • 1,115 kg of iron ore
  • 625 kg of coal
  • 53 kg of limestone

Energy savings from other metals include:

  • Aluminium savings of 95% energy
  • Copper savings of 85% energy
  • Lead savings of 65% energy
  • Zinc savings of 60% energy

Within the metal recycling industry, there are two types of metal typically sought after; ferrous (metals with iron) & non-ferrous (metals without iron). The most frequently requested recycled metals include; scrap steel, iron (ISS), lead, aluminium, copper, stainless steel and zinc.

Given the benefits of scrap recycling, it is perhaps not surprising to hear that this has become an important industry, especially in today’s world where sustainability and climate crisis are terms that are being used daily. There are, however, a lot of health and safety issues when it comes to this industry. As well as respecting worker safety, scrapyards need to conduct rigorous testing on their metals, both when the metals come into the yard and when they go out of the yard. Why is this the case?

The Importance of Metal Analysis

For a start, metals could contain trace elements which result in a less pure product and unhappy customers. Even the smallest trace could compromise product integrity. However, the real danger lies in scrap metals purportedly containing one combination of metals while in reality containing quite a different one. This can mean that customers are buying metal that is wholly unsuitable for their intended purpose.

It is of utmost importance then, that scrapyards are testing alloy composition and metal grade. One way that metal recyclers are staying ahead of the game is by using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, or LIBS analysis.

Metal recycling with handheld LIBS

Handheld LIBS analyser the KT-100S by Rigaku

The KT-100S is a handheld LIBS metals analyser by Rigaku which confirms alloy composition and metal grade verification. This means that scrapyards using this device need no longer worry about costly metals mix-ups or being found to be not compliant with legal regulations.

You can read more about the KT-100S here.

For more information, do not hesitate to get in touch!

 

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