Ferrous metals are those which contain iron as their main component, whereas non-ferrous metals do not contain iron. All over the globe, mankind is heavily dependent on non-ferrous and ferrous metals and their alloys. All industrial applications rely on these metals which are limited in quantity and must be preserved. Recycling has emerged as a viable alternative to reduce pressure on the existing reserves of metals. It is far more economical for the industries and is also eco-friendly.
The utility of ferrous and non-ferrous metals:
The common ferrous metals include mild steel, carbon steel, stainless steel, cast iron and wrought iron. Stainless steel contains nickel and chromium which makes it resistant to corrosion and suitable for production of surgical instruments and cutlery. Most ferrous alloys contain carbon which imparts it properties like malleability and ductility. Non-ferrous metals include aluminium, copper, silver, brass and lead. While aluminium is used in aircraft manufacture and kitchen ware, copper is widely used in wiring owing to its good electrical properties.
The metal recycling industry has grown over time. Today, millions of tons of ferrous and non-ferrous metals are recycled by recycling companies each year and sold to the industries. Recycling of scrap metal utilises one or more of these processes:
- Sorting: All the scrap material is sorted into different categories to be recycled properly. Paper, plastic, ferrous and non-ferrous materials have to be separated from each other.
- Baling: Baling is an important step of the recycling process, for which a scrap baling press is utilised. The scrap baler utilises multiple compactors to bundle the scrap metal by applying pressure in 2 or 3 dimensions. The solid blocks formed can then be transported.
- Shearing: Using hydraulic machinery, metal blocks are cut into manageable size for further processing.
- Separation: After the waste bundling machine has formed blocks of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, they are further separated using several techniques like rotating magnetic drums or belts, liquid floating system and pressurised air flow.
- Melting: Finally, the recovered metal is melted in a high temperature furnace and casted into ingots. These ingots can be used in foundries or sold to industries where they are used in manufacture of products like cans, tins, tubing, furniture, flat sheets and so on.
The benefits of Recycling :
For over 150 years, metals like Steel and Aluminium have been recycled. Over time, high efficiency recycling equipments like waste bundling machine, shredder and baling machine have also been developed to power the recycling industry. Recycling has many advantages, which include:
- Recycled metals do not lose their original properties and can be used repeatedly for versatile applications.
- It reduces land and air pollution.
- Lesser energy is consumed in recycling using equipments like baling machine in comparison to ore extraction and mining processes.
- Due to lesser incidences of mining, many forests and landscapes are preserved. This also maintains the natural habitat in the area and maintains balance in our ecosystem.
- Reduces emission of toxic solid wastes and greenhouse gases
Recycling metals as well as non-metals drastically lowers the global energy consumption. Such efforts are being earnestly supported by government and all industrial sectors.