If you work in metal recycling then you are helping to reduce greenhouse gases. But is your business using appropriate PMI measures? If the media is correct, then we are in the grasp of one of the most dangerous threats to our planet that mankind has ever encountered. The Guardian newspaper has even resolved to stop referring to this threat as “climate change”, and instead will only be referring to it as a “climate crisis” or “climate emergency”. Just last week, Ireland’s own broadcaster, RTE, dedicated an entire week to coverage on the topic.  A big factor in the climate crisis is that of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from carbon dioxide (CO2). Metal production is one of the biggest culprits in this area. We are all using metal more and more in our everyday lives thanks to its use in household appliances and technologies. While these items may improve our standard of living, they don’t always have long lives, and this can lead to massive increases in the amount of metal scrapped.  Metal recycling can significantly reduce such emissions as it requires less energy than metal production. The steel industry in particular is responsible for around 5% of greenhouse gas emissions across the globe which has led to a recent focus on utilising recycled steel.

So, what’s the problem?

Metal recycling is not without its complexities. Quality control plays a large part in metal recycling, and positive material identification measures must be put in place. This is because unidentified metals could contain harmful or hazardous elements or contaminants, and can be a cause for health and safety concerns. Additionally, metals and alloys need to be identified so that they can be treated correctly. Different grades of metals will have different properties such as corrosion, magnetism or heat resistance.  The elemental structure of specific metals will also contribute to their durability, and their application in different settings.

Therefore, those involved in metal recycling need to establish the composition of metals and alloys that come through to be recycled. Their identity needs to be determined at each stage throughout the process to ensure that they are sorted correctly and meet industry requirements.  This need is not specific only to those involved in metal recycling. Any form of metalworks, be it metal production or metal recycling, will need to put a process in place for positive material identification (PMI). Doing so will help to keep businesses compliant and avoid costly and time consuming errors.

Putting PMI measures in place

One of the biggest causes for concern is when metalworkers or recyclers rely on unreliable methods for metal identification. While experienced workers may consider themselves able to correctly identify a metal through appearance alone, it is not always possible. There may be trace elements included within a metal or alloy that will impact on its performance. Although some metal is stamped to confirm its grade, relying on this method alone is also a surefire way to invite trouble.  The best way to correctly identify metals in your metal production or recycling business is to use a metal analyser. Our partners in Rigaku have developed the KT-100S Handheld LIBS Metal Analyser to provide on the spot analysis for any industry that needs a system for PMI. It is small and lightweight, but don’t let that fool you. Despite its size it can store over 4,000 measurements and features a large onboard library. Some of the features of the KT-100S Handheld LIBS Metal Analyser include:

  • One touch for results in less than 2 seconds
  • 6 hours worth of battery life
  • MIL STD 810G certified
  • Protection against dust with an IP-54 rating
  • GPS tracking
  • No argon purge required

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