Cleaning - Analyzing - Sorting - Recycling

Resource-friendly scrap sorting

cleanSORT is a new laser-based real-time analysis for scrap recycling. While the components are conveyed through the laser device at approx. 3 m per second, the machine recognizes the type and quality of metal materials. This makes it possible to separate and recycle the valuable metals, even if lacquers or metallic coating materials are on the secondary metal.

Laser spectroscopy and laser ablation

Modern high-performance metal materials are distinguished by precisely matched alloying parts. In order to increase the proportion of recycled material in these materials, it is necessary to accurately determine the alloy composition of the used scrap. Conventional analysis methods cannot penetrate the coatings of paints or metals. Here, the combination of two methods provides remedy: laser spectroscopy and laser ablation.

Cleaning first, then analyzing

Laser spectroscopy recognizes the substances by their unique optical spectrum. This "fingerprint of light" is used to precisely analyze the alloying composition of metal scrapes at high conveying speed in the mass flow. For this purpose it is unavoidable to clean the measuring area and remove coatings. In this laser ablation, a high-performance laser first cleans a small area on the surface of a scrap piece in one to two hundredths of a second, also several times in succession. In the second partial process, a laser-induced plasma spectroscopy (LIBS) is performed on the previously cleaned surface with the same laser.

A spectral analysis determines the chemical composition of the examined scrap piece. With these data, the metal can be sorted according to the actual alloying requirement of a target melt. Sorting takes place by means of air impulse technology with up to 30 scrap pieces per second. Thanks to the support of the German Federal Foundation for the Environment, the prototype was realized, tested and further developed under operating conditions.

Economic benefits

  • The new "COLA" (Collaboration of LIBS and Laser Ablation) process works with high productivity rates and is both resource-conserving and economical. A facility
        • sorts about 10,000 tons of steel scrap a year
        • saves about 27,000 MWh of primary energy
        • avoids about 11,000 tons of CO2
        • replaces approximately 200 tons of imported alloying metals worth almost EUR 1 million
  • The potential for the process is great: From automotive and aerospace industry to incinerator - metal scrap incur in large quantities. With 100 "COLA" turbines, it is possible to save around 1.1 million tons of CO2 a year. This corresponds approximately to the annual CO2 emission of the city of Ulm.

The managing partners of Clean-Lasersysteme GmbH and Mr. Philipp Soest (managing director of cleanSORT GmbH) have founded the company cleanSORT. In this new company, the innovative technology will be further advanced.

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