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How Do WEEE Plants Work?

WEEE Electronic Recycling

Typically, in electronic waste there are high value commodities that are found within the circuit boards and wiring of each device. To recover these commodities takes a size reduction and separation processes to liberate the valuable precious metals from the plastics, steel, aluminum, and other constituents.

How the plants work? Since electronic material inherently poses some danger when shredding, certain precautions or de-manufacturing needs to take place prior to remove batteries, ink cartridges, toner, CFL bulbs, and other hazardous components. Typically, E-waste processing plants start with an infeed conveyor that sends the E-waste into a shredder or multiple shredders. Once the material is shredded down to a manageable size it becomes feasible to recover now liberated commodities such as steel, aluminum, wire, plastic, and circuit boards.

The shredded material is introduced to a small mesh screener to remove fines that will be rich in copper and precious metals and ultimately be a smelter concentrate. Then several magnets will remove the steel, before an eddy current will remove the non-ferrous metals which are mostly aluminum.

Inductive sensor (metal detector) sorting equipment is often installed to sort out all remaining metals from the eddy current pass fraction. As the material travels along a high speed conveyor belt, an array of metal detectors pinpoints the exact location of the piece of wire or circuit board. A small coordinated jet of air removes the metal particle as it leaves the conveyor belt. Adding color sorters to multiple areas can save additional labor and increase yield at the smelter. Applications benefiting from color air jet sorting machines include eddy current aluminum outputs for copper and circuit board removal, sorted steel for copper removal, and inductive sensor sorting outputs to produce a high grade circuit board concentrate.

What are the risks? Since electronics are made with various metals and plastics the recycling of such items can pose a hazard to both humans and the environment. Electronic waste can contain lead, cadmium, beryllium, and other potentially hazardous items. Consulting an expert can not only assist in designing a safe and well ventilated system, but add operational context and recommendations for pre-treating the e-waste to keep some of the troubling components out of the shredding stream.

Even with precautions, shredding activities can lead to some isolated fires which is why preparation at the plant design level can prevent the unthinkable. We have designed multiple types of flame detection and extinguishing systems with advanced sensors and features optimized for our industry.

With our industry leading experience we can ensure you get the highest recovery rate from your plant.