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Old 11/22/09, 06:18 PM
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Recycling Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the most commonly available metals to recycle.
Here is a brief representation of my experience with the metal.


Aluminum is generally the most abundant non-ferrous
metal to be found in the recycler's world. It is a
strong metal that weighs roughly 33% the weight of
steel, and is commonly used for cast engine parts,
framework in many applications, sheeting for floors
and walls in the heavy truck and trailer industries,
siding and guttering in residential construction,
electrical wiring and food and beverage packaging,
flooring material in some hog confinement buildings,
occasional roofing on older, WWII vintage outbuildings
(as steel was rationed during that time period) and
occasional metal grain storage bins, etc. There are
more grades of aluminum in the recycling industry than
any other metal, so varied are it's forms, alloys and
uses.
Following is a list of the grades most commonly sought
by various scrap yards, ranging from the most
valuable, per pound, generally, to the least.

Extrusion
Automotive wheel rims
Mixed Low Copper Clip, a.k.a. "MLC"
Painted Siding
Beverage cans, a.k.a. "UBC"
Aluminum Ingot
Castings
Old sheet
Mixed
Aluminum Radiators
Neoprene coated aluminum wire, without steel
reinforcing wire
Breakage, which is mixed grades of aluminum with steel
or other impurities comprising up to 60% of the
material, by weight.



Extruded aluminum is most commonly used in framework.
It is generally found in the form of structural
angles, flats, channel, pipe,
I and H beams, etc. It has the appearance of having
been literally
"extruded", as through a playdough press, because,
well, it has, sort of.
The small lines left by the extrusion process are
usually obvious and run parallel to the length of the
material.
Framework along the sides of semi van trailers are one
of the most commonly seen forms of extrusion. This
grade of aluminum contains one of the purest and
highest quality alloys. Other common extrusion
applications are aluminum lawn chair frames, window
frames, electrical conduit tubing, storm door and
sliding glass door frames, etc.
One common application containing the same alloy that
is
uncharacteristic of the general form extrusion takes
is semi tractor/trailer wheel rims. Smaller automotive
rims contain a different alloy and therefore do not
fall into the extrusion category.

As extruded aluminum is a very high grade alloy,
strict attention must be paid to it's preparation for
sale to the metals yard. There can be no plastics,
rubber, steel or foreign metals, such as the zinc
corner inserts commonly found in residential window
frames, still attached to the aluminum. Heavy paints,
caulking and tar must be removed, though a regular
light coating of paint is acceptable. The salvage
buyer will appreciate the extra effort of sizing the
metal to approximate four foot lengths. This step is
not difficult when handling the material for
processing and can be accomplished with a hacksaw,
cutting torch, masonry circular saw or, if you are so
equipped, with a hydraulic scrap shear. When using a
cutting torch in the preparation of nonferrous metals,
the greatest productivity, by far, will be realized
with the use of acetylene gas over that of propane.
Acetylene burns approximately 2000 degrees, F, hotter
than propane, and, therefore, melts the metal much
faster.
As the relationship between small time scrapper and
buyer matures, the effort of sizing the material will
be reflected favorably in the price paid for the
finished material. There are some grades of aluminum
that can be skimped on a bit in the processing.
Extrusion is not one of them.


Automotive wheel rims are an extremely high grade of
aluminum casting. At times, this grade is more
valuable than the extrusions and MLC grades, but
generally the salvage yards won't make any effort to
admit to this.
Get to know the buyer, and don't be afraid to pry a
little in determining the worth of your sorted
aluminum grades. Most small time scrappers do not sort
their aluminums. They merely settle for removing the
impurities from the material and then sell it mixed.
It has been the experience of the author in that the
Biblical maxim,"There is profit in all labor", holds
especially true in the metals recycling industry.
Automotive rims need merely be stripped of the tire,
rubber or brass valve stem and all lead wheel weights.
A very few rim types contain steel inserts at the lug
bolt holes. These must be punched out or burned out
with the torch. Any hub cap must be removed.


The Mixed, Low Copper grades of aluminum are very
similar in alloy to the extrusions. Their respective
values are generally close, if not overlapping. MLC is
characterized by any type of aluminum sheeting, except
for aluminum foil, that shines of clean metal on both
sides.
This includes most aluminum pressure tanks such as
those used in the carbon dioxide bottling industry.
Such tanks must have the valve removed and be cut in
half before they can be sold as MLC. There can be no
paint or impurity of any kind attached to the
material.
The buyer will appreciate the effort of sizing the
sheets to approximate three foot by four foot
dimensions. Depending on the size of the yard's
balers, four foot by five foot sheets may be
acceptable. Again, it is not crucial to size the
material any more than it may take to render it small
enough to transport, but the price will reflect the
convenience to the yard that can be added by sizing.
An acetylene cutting torch is not the fastest, but, in
the author's experience, by far the most economical
means by which to cut sheet aluminum. Very little
oxygen is needed when cutting aluminum. The material
will not blow out of the way as steel does, but merely
melts away. The process is quicker, the thinner the
sheet material being cut. Again, MLC is a grade of
aluminum that pays best to prepare to near perfection.

Painted Siding includes all residential or commercial
aluminum siding, guttering, facia, soffit, flashing
and trim materials. Small amounts of tar or paints are
acceptable. All insulation backing must be scraped
free of the back of the siding. All steel staples or
nails must be removed. The buyer will appreciate
having this grade sized to four or five foot lengths.
For the convenience of scrapper and buyer, alike, it
is of benefit to stack this material in bundles and
tie it securely with any aluminum wire. Painted siding
is a mid- to higher grade aluminum, and careful
attention should still be paid to its preparation.

Aluminum Beverage Cans, or "UBC" grade aluminum, has
traditionally been one of the most abused grades in
the industry, by the seller.
Most people who visit scrap yards do so with less than
twenty pounds of used aluminum beverage cans. Often
times, people who are adversely affected by failing
personal economies can be seen walking the roadsides,
picking up used beverage cans to supplement their
income. Having undertaken this activity many times for
the purpose of general, charitable cleanup, it is the
author's experience that mortgages and car payments,
generally, will not be made by the sale of what
quantity of aluminum can be ordinarily gleaned in such
a fashion.
Years ago, it took less than twenty cans to make a
pound of aluminum.
As the industry has refined the process and cheapened
the finished product, it now takes over forty cans to
make a pound of aluminum.
Scrap yard workers the world over have become very
watchful of the quality of aluminum beverage cans
offered to them for sale.
Moisture, ice, sand, cigarette butts and ash and other
impurities are often found in the cans, all too often
placed there purposefully by the seller, to increase
weight. Become one of those who are known for offering
for sale a high quality product. If this principle is
compromised once with the buyer or yard workers, it
will take some time to regain their trust, if ever.
There is no prerequisite preparation necessary for
aluminum beverage cans, but crushing them will make
transport much more productive, in the event that a
larger quantity is involved. Always making sure the
cans are dry is another point to be chalked up with
the buyer.
Transporting cans is easier if they can be bagged or
placed in large boxes or barrels.

__________________

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Barry Goldwater.
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  #2  
Old 11/22/09, 06:20 PM
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Location: Illinois
Posts: 9,364

Aluminum Ingot is a specialized grade of aluminum,
more because of the extensive process and equipment
required to melt, pour and shape the ingots than for
the alloys involved. Melting aluminum is the quickest
way to clean, size, condense and prepare the metal for
transport.
The author, near the beginning of his own scrapping
and recycling endeavors, built a small,
propane-powered, firebrick lined, tilting furnace
specifically designed for the purpose of producing
forty pound aluminum ingots. At that time, and with
that machine, it took a full day and 100 gallons of
propane to produce 2000 pounds of clean ingots.
Today, as with any other productive and profitable
venture, it is quite controversial to melt aluminum on
any reasonably productive scale.
If you've the means, and the "permissions", melting
aluminum eliminates the "breakage" grade and greatly
enhances the cleaning, processing and productivity of
the entire small time aluminum recycling industry.
There are two specific grades of ingot that the small
time scrap recycler need familiarize himself with;
1.1.3. and 1.1.1.
The numbers represent the percentage of impurities
allowed, specifically and respectively, iron, copper
and zinc.
It is typically easy enough to produce the 1.1.3.
alloy, but very difficult to produce 1.1.1. The latter
is generally only sought if pure extrusion, MLC or
aluminum wire is to be melted. If the small time
scrapper can produce aluminum ingot, he will likely
find the buyer very interested
in the product, and, as specific quality can be
identified and maintained, very agreeable in the
pricing. A thirty to fifty pound ingot is ideal.



Cast Aluminum is generally considered a lower grade
aluminum alloy.
Cast aluminum occasionally contains varying quantities
of magnesium, which can catch fire fairly easily and
burn with an intense heat.
Push lawnmower housings are the most common item found
containing magnesium. Use caution when preparing this
material for sale with a torch. Better to remove
bolts, pins and studs with mechanical means, if
possible.
Small engine blocks, some push lawnmower housings,
larger engine blocks and castings, some industrial
pulleys, many carburetors, industrial machine frames,
industrial truck brake and suspension assemblies, most
barbecue grills, smaller to mid-sized electric motor
caps, old pots, pans and pressure canners, automatic
car and truck transmissions, pistons, some older
playground equipment and many gearbox housings are
made of cast aluminum. Automatic transmissions and
pistons, however, if procured in quantity sufficient
to warrant segregation, and if cleaned of excess oils,
grease and all steel, are both much higher grades of
aluminum casting, and can be sold for a higher amount
per pound. Talk to the buyer if quantities of either
item can be offered in excess of one hundred pounds,
generally.
Much of the preparation of cast aluminum can be
accomplished with a maul. It generally pays to do all
that can be done to remove the steel and other
impurities by less violent means, such as by wrench,
hammer and punch or torch, before resorting to the
sizing maul. The author has scars beneath his right
eye bearing witness to the danger that cast aluminum
can pose when processed with a maul. Use eye
protection and a face shield for cheap insurance
against your own similar experience. In fact, eye and
face protection is highly recommended in all aspects
of scrap metal handling and preparation, especially
when using power equipment or a cutting torch.
Cast aluminum generally comes to the scrapper in small
enough pieces that further downsizing is seldom
necessary, beyond that which naturally takes place
during the cleaning and preparation process.
Being a low grade aluminum alloy, generally,
specifications for preparation of this material are
somewhat lax compared to the higher grades. Some
grease and oil is tolerable, but only as a coating,
not a puddle. All gear boxes and transmissions must be
drained, completely.
A very small amount of steel can generally be left in
the material, such as the occasional pin, screw or
bolt that cannot be practically removed.
Paint is acceptable if not excessively thick. A very
small portion of rubber or plastic may be acceptable.
These exceptions should remain exceptions, and not
become the rule. Don't become lax in cleaning this
material. If the buyer likes you and you develop a
reputation for offering quality materials, some small
details may be overlooked in prepared cast aluminum.
This does not include the higher grades mentioned,
i.e. pistons and transmission shells. Use good
judgment.



Old Sheet Aluminum is comprised of just about any
sheet or mixed aluminum material that does not fall in
the above categories.
All foils, old road and display signs made of
aluminum, non-extrusion window frames, window screen,
aluminum bicycle and exercise equipment frames, any
sheet aluminum with paint on one or both sides, etc.
will fall into the old sheet category. One notable
exception is the sheet aluminum that covers the outer
portion of semi van trailers.
This is a very high grade aluminum and should be
segregated and offered for sale separately from
regular old sheet, unless there is only a small
quantity to be had, in which case it may as well be
mixed.
Ask the buyer for his preference, as there can be a
marked difference in the price, per pound, between
these grades.
Old sheet, by definition, is a low grade material such
as is cast aluminum. Therefore, some impurities,
thicker paints, etc. may be overlooked. Don't become
too careless. As with any sheet grade aluminum, the
yard workers and buyer will appreciate the effort of
sizing it to three by four, or four by five foot
dimensions. Ask the buyer for his preference.

Mixed aluminum is just that. Anything and everything
aluminum, as always being free of steel and other
impurities, can be mixed and offered to the scrap yard
for sale, as is. There is no size stipulation.
Transportation of this grade of aluminum can be a
nuisance as it is often very bulky and anything but
uniform. It has ALWAYS been the author's experience
that aluminum is best sorted, cut to size, baled,
boxed or stacked on a pallet and banded. The
convenience of transportation, alone, makes the extra
effort profitable, not to mention the increase that is
realized in price, of sorted materials. That said,
there are, almost invariably, a few items to be found
in the scrap aluminum pile that just don't fit in
anywhere. Usually, such items can be included with
either old sheet or cast, but not always. It is for
this cause alone that the "mixed" grade is included in
this writing.
The all around best packing container for the small
time scrapper is likely the fifty-five gallon drum,
with top removed. Such barrels are especially useful
in transporting the often small and irregular shapes
of material found in the cast and mixed aluminum
grades.


Aluminum Radiators include any radiator, heat
exchanger, condenser
or oil cooler that is composed of aluminum only. Many
such radiators contain copper tubing, and fall into a
different, and more valuable scrap category. Aluminum
radiators commonly include plastic reservoirs and
other small plastic or rubber parts, as well as steel
framework and the occasional steel clip or wire.
Remove all such impurities and be sure that all oils
and coolants are drained before offering the material
for sale. Some aluminum radiators utilize interior
steel tubing and are far better tossed into the
"Breakage" pile, as they are quite unprofitable to
separate.

__________________

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Barry Goldwater.
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  #3  
Old 11/22/09, 06:22 PM
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Location: Illinois
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Neoprene Aluminum Wire is any electrical grade wire,
braided, twisted or single strand, which is encased in
a neoprene, or plastic sheath.
The aluminum alloy is a very high grade, but the
plastic sheath is not profitable to remove except in
the largest industrial wire applications, where it can
be split with a sharp knife and stripped clean by
mechanical means. Burning the coating from any
electrical wire, copper or aluminum, is a very
controversial act, and it often melts the aluminum,
rendering it very difficult to prepare and lowering
the grade to cast, unless great care is taken to
regulate the temperature.
It is simpler and safer to sell the material as
neoprene coated. The price offered to the scrapper,
well-known for producing quality material, if not
quantity, will be very close, percentage-wise, to that
of clean aluminum. Some braided, twisted and coated
aluminum wire is accompanied by a strand of clean
aluminum wire that has a steel core.
It is the author's experience that some scrap yards
will buy the steel-cored aluminum wire for the same
price as steel-free neoprene coated wire. This should
not be counted upon, but it would be worth asking the
buyer for his preference. Being a lower grade of
aluminum, neoprene coated wire may still be acceptable
with a small amount of steel attached, such as
connectors or bolts or staples used to attach the wire
to a pole or wall.
If the buyer chooses not to include steel core
aluminum wire with the clean neoprene grade, he may
still be willing to pay more for it, per pound, than
"Breakage", which is the least valuable grade of
salvage aluminum, and, the topic of the last category
of this writing.


Aluminum Breakage, a.k.a. "dirty aluminum", or "irony
aluminum",
is any grade of aluminum containing steel, plastic,
rubber, some wood,
or any other unacceptable impurity. It is the author's
experience, again, that it almost always pays to clean and
sort the various grades of aluminum for sale. But,
again, there are exceptions. There are items that will
be tossed back into the pile, continually, as the
small time scrapper begins to understand his trade,
and learns what aluminum items are profitable to clean
and prepare, and which are not profitable, if not
impossible, to clean, and prepare. When the pile
becomes very small, and all profitable pieces have
been removed and categorized, it is very likely that
the leftovers will fall nicely into the "Breakage"
category.
There are very few stipulations, other than that the
material should be at least 40% aluminum, by weight.
This is the lowest grade of aluminum. It is here that
it is acceptable to push the limits, a bit. The buyer
will inform you of anything that he sees that he does
not approve of.

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“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Barry Goldwater.
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  #4  
Old 11/22/09, 06:56 PM
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 436

just wanted to say thanks. lots of usefull info

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