COPPER RECOVERY FROM POTENTIAL SECONDARY RESOURCES

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COPPER RECOVERY FROM POTENTIAL SECONDARY RESOURCES

Copper recovery from potential secondary resources plays a vital role in advancing sustainable resource management and reducing reliance on primary resource extraction. Copper is the third most produced metal which is a material that is essential for the transmission and distribution of electricity, after iron and aluminum. It has high thermal and electric conductivity and is relatively corrosion-resistant. One of the notable characteristics of copper is that it is a readily recyclable material. It is estimated that the annual demand for copper in the year 2050 will be approximately three times greater than that of 2000. It would appear that approximately 80% of the copper in end-of-life products in Western Europe is collected for recycling. It is estimated that between 48 and 65% of copper from end-of-life products in Western Europe, 56% in Australia, 42% in North America, and 45% worldwide is recycled.

Copper is mainly included in five categories of waste: conductive copper cables, waste from electrical and electronic equipment, end-of-life vehicles, spent batteries, and copper slag. The utilization of copper has emerged as a significant topic in the field of environmental protection and resource recycling, given the considerable production volume of copper globally.

 

  1. Conductive copper cables

The conductive copper cables are often manufactured from industrially pure copper or oxygen-free copper, which has a purity of above 99.90%. It accounts for 58.3% of the total weight of a cable. The waste cables contain high copper value, low environmental pollution, a simple refining process, and low energy consumption.

  1. Waste electric and electronic equipment (WEE)

Waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE), another significant type of copper-containing waste, is often characterized by its low metal content and the presence of organic material, which poses particular recycling challenges. The economic viability of recycling this type of scrap is frequently driven not by copper alone, but by the presence of precious metals.

  1. End-of-life Vehicles

End-of-life vehicles (ELVs) represent approximately 7% of the total EU waste generated. Copper is a fundamental material in automotive manufacturing, being used extensively in wiring, electrical components, and a multitude of mechanical parts. As vehicles reach the end of their operational lifespan, they become a significant source of copper, embedded in wiring harnesses, alternators, starters, and numerous other components. In addition to other metals, copper recycling offers significant opportunities for value retention on a global scale. ELVs contain a mix of metals, plastics, rubber, and other materials, requiring sophisticated recycling processes to extract valuable metals like copper efficiently. Nevertheless, advancements in automotive recycling technologies have enabled the development of innovative methodologies for the recovery of copper. The efficiency of recycling ELVs is primarily determined by the effectiveness of the collection, separation, and shredding stages.

  1. Spent Batteries

The recycling of spent batteries has become increasingly important as the demand for batteries continues to grow in various industries, including automotive and electronics. Among the valuable materials found in batteries, copper stands out as a key component, making its recovery essential for sustainable battery recycling practices. Copper is used in various types of batteries, including lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries, and nickel-cadmium batteries. In lead-acid batteries, copper is present in the terminals and grids, while in lithium-ion batteries, it is used in conductive materials and current collectors. The recovery of copper from spent batteries is achieved through the application of several distinct recycling technologies, which are specifically adapted to suit the characteristics of different battery compositions. The mechanical shredding and crushing of batteries facilitate subsequent material separation by breaking them down into smaller pieces. Subsequently, hydrometallurgical processes, such as leaching and solvent extraction, are employed to dissolve the copper from the battery components.

  1. Copper Slag

Copper slag is a byproduct of the smelting and refining of copper ore. It contains valuable copper content that can be recovered through specialized processes. Additionally, residues from the production of other metals, such as zinc and nickel, may contain copper and other valuable metals, making them potential sources for recovery. (https://www.proses-makina.com/copper-anode-slime-cas-processing-and-recovery-of-precious-metals/).

RECYCLING PROCESSES

Crushing Technology

Crushing technology serves as a crucial initial step in the copper recovery process from secondary sources. It involves breaking down bulk materials into smaller particles, enhancing subsequent separation and extraction processes. By reducing the size of feed materials, crushing technology increases the surface area available for chemical reactions, leading to improved efficiency in copper recovery.

Chemical Recycling Techniques

Chemical recycling techniques play a vital role in the recovery of copper from secondary sources, offering efficient and environmentally friendly methods for extracting valuable metals. Chemical processes facilitate the selective recovery of copper from a variety of materials, including scrap metal, electronic waste, and industrial residues. These processes include leaching and solvent extraction, precipitation, and electrowinning.

Electrowinning

Electrowinning is an electrochemical process used for the recovery of copper from solution by electrodeposition. In this process, copper ions in the solution are reduced at the cathode surface, forming solid copper metal. The cathode is typically made of stainless steel or copper, while the anode is made of inert materials such as graphite or titanium. Electrowinning is an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly method for producing high-purity copper metal from solution.

Industries can minimize environmental impact, conserve natural resources, and foster a more sustainable future by maximizing the recovery of copper from secondary sources, electronic waste, industrial byproducts, and urban environments. Continued investment in recycling technologies, innovation, and collaboration across sectors will be essential to realize the full potential of copper recovery from diverse sources.

PROSES MAKİNA SOLUTIONS

Fast and Efficient Shredding

The shredder machines designed by Proses Makina offer a fast and effective solution for the crushing of copper-containing materials. These machines are ideal for processing materials from end-of-life products, electronic waste, and industrial residues. Their high-speed rotating blades and powerful motors enable them to shred materials into small pieces, creating an ideal material flow for later recovery operations.

Electrowinning Units: High Efficiency and Purity

The electrowinning units are produced to achieve high efficiency and purity in the electrochemical precipitation of copper from the solution. The units employ an electrode system that is capable of selectively reducing copper ions from the solution, thereby enabling the production of high-purity copper metal and the creation of a valuable material resource while reducing waste in the recycling process.

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