Recycling light metals such as aluminum, titanium, and magnesium from scrap is primarily done manually, making it an inefficient and expensive process. Existing automated technologies are unable to distinguish different types of alloys. Innovation in light metal recycling is crucial because light metals can be used to reduce the weight of cars and aircraft, which could significantly reduce both energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transportation. Cost-effective scrap recycling could dramatically reduce the cost of light-weight metals, such as those used for aircraft construction and vehicle light-weighting.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Energy Research Company (ERCo) is developing an automated Aluminum Integrated Minimill (AIM) that can produce finished components from mixed metal scrap. Unlike most current approaches, ERCo’s AIM can distinguish and accurately sort multiple grades of aluminum scrap for recycling. ERCo’s AIM reduces energy consumption in several ways. First, the technology would provide real-time feedback controls to improve the accuracy of the sorting process. The sorted scrap is then melted and cast. Further, ERCo’s design replaces the inefficient dryers used in conventional processes with advanced, high-efficiency equipment. ERCo’s AIM enables significantly more efficient and less expensive scrap sorting and aluminum recovery for casting.
If successful, ERCo’s Aluminum Integrated Minimill would enable the efficient and cost-effective sorting and recycling of scrap aluminum.
Light-weighting vehicles to improve fuel efficiency could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign fossil fuel resources used in the transportation industry.
Recycling aluminum would prevent the discharge of 2.7 million tons of CO2, reduce energy use by 84%, and save 9.8 billion kWh across the aluminum recycling industry each year.
Recycling aluminum in an Aluminum Integrated Minimill could save the aluminum industry $1.1 billion each year.