Compact-laser technology – smart recycling of aluminium
More than 70 million tonnes of aluminium are produced globally each year and demand continues to grow. Recycling is therefore a priority. Swerea is developing a ground-breaking laser analysis technology for a cost-effective process.
More than 70 million tonnes of aluminium are produced globally each year via processes that are very energy demanding. Producing one tonne of metal from the raw material bauxite requires more than 15,000 kWh of electricity. Energy use for aluminium recycling is merely 5 percent of that normally required for primary aluminium production. Aluminium recycling is therefore a priority, since it yields considerable energy savings.
Alloys - a problem for scrap-sortings
However, the scrap-sorting technology currently used to separate metals cannot effectively separate the different alloys. With large material flows, to improve process efficiency and reduce the need for costly dilution and additives in aluminium production, rapid chemical analysis is necessary.
Together with Acreo Swedish ICT, Swerea has developed a laser application that has great potential, especially for analysing large material flows. Projects are now running with partners in China and Brazil.
Rapid real time analysis saves costs and energy
The technology enables sufficiently accurate real-time analysis of aluminium scrap. This means major cost savings, since several steps in the manufacturing process can be simplified and even eliminated. Ultimately, for the aluminium industry, the outcome is considerable energy savings and increased sales. The technology can also be used in other industrial applications that require rapid chemical analysis.
“The next step will be to make the analysis equipment more compact and integrate it with robotics for the actual sorting,” says Tania Irebo.