To start, our experts determine whether it’s reasonable and possible to fix your car. In cases where we deem a vehicle unsalvageable, we turn to recyclers. A car has several recyclable components, each having different recycling procedures.
Vehicle Recycling Process
Today, we will go over the recycling processes of a car’s scrap metal, batteries, wheels, tires, and catalytic converters. These procedures are based on a 2010 report by the Argonne National Laboratory, which the United States Department of Energy operates.
Cars are composed of 80% metal components. Metal components have two classifications: ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous metals are made up of iron, while non-ferrous metals can include aluminum, lead, and copper.
Dismantlers recycle scrap metals back into the manufacturing cycle through shredding. Shredding involves tearing apart cars using a large machine called a hammer mill. The machine reduces metals into chunks of metal separable into ferrous, non-ferrous, and other materials used in cars like glass and plastics. The separation techniques for these materials depend on the company’s technology.
After classifying the metals, aluminum becomes the first priority of recyclers. Aluminum is one of the most sought-after materials in cars due to its economic and environmental benefits in recycling and reusability. Remelting is the current recycling procedure for aluminum. However, recyclers lose about 45% of the material in the process.
Researchers are pushing for a more efficient way to recycle aluminum. Solid state recycling of aluminum, in particular, is attracting significant attention in the United States. It involves optimizing temperatures for cold compression and deformation of metals. According to a 2017 review, the application of this process results in lower metal loss and almost no emissions of harmful gasses.
Although not as highly regarded as aluminum, there are many industrial uses for lead. For example, due to its corrosion resistance, plumbers often use lead as a pipe material. Many architects also use this metal for roofs and windows because of its durability. In cars, lead is a crucial component in batteries.
People, including several companies, used to dispose of car batteries carelessly. Since the United States has banned the disposal of batteries through landfills, the current trend of recycling is by smelting its contents.
Before heating and extracting lead, recyclers first neutralize the acid from car batteries using a chemical agent. In the process of smelting, a furnace heats the components of the batteries along with reducing agents such as limestone, iron, and coke. Smelting results in the separation of hard lead and byproducts called waste slag.
Other Scrap Materials
Industrial manufacturers use a combination of the above processes to separate and extract other scrap metals, including copper. Manufacturers can also extract copper in its pure form through metallurgy. Other than these metals, other materials called residues are salvageable from the initial shredding of a car.
After shredding a car and separating scrap metals, companies typically dispose of residues through landfilling, which, as you may know, is detrimental to the environment. Fortunately, recent developments in the industry now allow the recycling of organic components of residues, converting them into energy sources for blast furnaces.
As the rim of a car’s wheels is part of its metal components, the rubber tires are considered residues when recyclers shred the car. Along with other residues like plastic, rubber tires go through the process of pyrolysis.
In general, pyrolysis is the process of converting biomass into biofuel through intense heating. Metallurgy experts perform it in different methods, including in environments of high temperature, low temperature, high pressure, and even sub-atmospheric pressure. After this process, it produces oil, gas, and other residues like char.
Modern recycling methods for car tires involve rubber disintegration through high-velocity water jets. Engineers can use the rubber granules collected from this process as filtration materials or as foundations for the construction of buildings and roads.
These components are responsible for converting the car’s toxic gasses and pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, into an environmentally-acceptable substance. It achieves the latter through a chemical reaction involving platinum and other related metals. As such, catalytic converters are also a great source of these in-demand metals.
Other than car manufacturing, other industries can use platinum group metals as materials for dental products, laboratory equipment, electronics, chemical agents, and even jewelry. Many other industries, including electronic companies and manufacturers, use palladium and rhodium as components for their devices.
Recyclers collect such metals from catalytic converters through different processes. Back in the day, the conventional approach was smelting and other pyrometallurgical processes similar to the extraction of lead. Today, researchers are looking into hydrometallurgical methods, such as segregation, aqua regia, and chlorination. Particularly, aqua regia involves using an acidic substance to dissolve unnecessary parts in catalytic converters.
Making the World a Better Place, One Car at a Time
Because of these recycling efforts, we can increase the life cycle of the materials used in cars. In 2010, 75% of those materials were profitably recyclable, meaning manufacturers can use 75% of the car to create or assemble other products. Furthermore, the residues from the shredded materials save over 23 million barrels of oil annually. This leads to 12 million tons of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Researchers and companies continue to look for ways to improve the recycling processes of cars and its components. All these materials contribute greatly to an economic and environmental approach to disposing of used cars and its parts. After all, we should all strive to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cars are no exception.
Ready, Set, Sell!
Here at Sell Us Your Car AZ, we highly value the amount of work put into the making of cars. That’s why we ensure that each component is recycled to its full extent. If you live in Arizona and have a car you’re ready to sell, contact us today. We’ll give you a quote, schedule your free pick-up, and pay you in cash on the spot.