COLOGNE – Fine-grain sorting materials have no chance of escaping when Galloo, one of Europe’s biggest recyclers and a pioneer in metal recycling, teams up with the Cologne-based sorting and separation specialist STEINERT.
The two sector heavyweights have developed a new non-ferrous metals separator for fine materials. The new system’s splitter can be set with millimetre precision, enabling non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, copper and zinc to be separated more effectively than ever before. Additionally, the machine was designed so a conveyor belt change can be carried out in 10 minutes, without heavily lifting equipment or excessive downtime.
A non-ferrous metal separator for a variety of fine-grain materials
In 2013, Galloo wanted to expand and began to conduct studies into more efficient ways of extracting non-ferrous metals from fine-grain material. Galloo contacted the engineers at STEINERT, asking them to develop a flexible machine concept for three different input materials: automobile shredder residue (ASR), incineration bottom ash and electronic scrap.
The challenge with this task is that the input is extremely fine material, with grain sizes of 0.5–10 mm. The goal was to enable the three different materials to be to run through the system flexibly without any drop in the separation rate. Engineers wanted to further optimize the separation of non-ferrous metals out of the fine-grain fraction and, at the same time, simplify the machine’s operation and maintenance.
STEINERT adapted the output to the machine’s requirements and developed a splitter that can handle the three different types of fine-grain material. Fine gearbox adjustments can be made to the splitter to enable it to get to within a few millimetres of the material, separating even the tiniest particles. The machines now run at Galloo in two shifts for a total of about 16 hours per day. “We are now buying input material from Germany, Denmark and the UK, because the system runs so reliably,” said Galloo R&D Officer Luc Waignein.
10-Minute belt change with the STEINERT EddyC FINES
After the successful installation Galloo, STEINERT’s development and design team began to work on additional features especially for the fine-grain sector, leading to the creation of the new STEINERT EddyC Fines. The EddyC Fines has a frame structure which allows the belt to be replaced in 10 minutes. “Changing the belt of an eddy current separator often takes a company half a day, with up to three employees and heavy lifting equipment needed to perform this task,” explains STEINERT Technical Director Dr. Nico Schmalbein. With the STEINERT EddyC FINES, two employees can carry out a belt change with nothing more elaborate than a spanner. The easy handling is a big benefit for Galloo. “We now need fewer personnel for belt changes and there is less downtime,” says Waignein.
A STEINERT EddyC FINES in action in Belgium
At the same time, Galloo is building a new facility that will recover exclusively non-ferrous metals from grate ash. The ash contains up to six percent iron and up to three percent non-ferrous metals. However, the particles are very small, measuring only 0.5–4 millimetres. As a result of the previous good experience, Galloo is using the new development from STEINERT, the STEINERT EddyC FINES in the new facility.
A flexibly adjustable splitter
The new system’s splitter plate has to be precisely adjusted in order to separate the metals from the fine incineration bottom ash material. “A gearbox now enables users to set the splitter plate with millimetre precision along three different axes and adjust it even more accurately to the parabolic trajectories of a wide variety of materials. In addition, a corresponding upgrade enables the program-controlled system to focus on predefined points of the parabolic trajectory,” says Schmalbein. “In combination with a continuously adjustable eccentric magnetic pole drum, this system can achieve optimal separation results.”
This enhancement pays off for Galloo. “The new system will enable us to sort so many tons of incineration bottom ash each year that even small improvements in the separation rate will have a noticeable financial impact. We mainly recycle aluminium, copper, zinc and brass, as well as a few precious metals such as gold and silver,” explains Waignein. Besides the separated metals, the remaining metal-free mineral mixture is also valuable.
The pole drum’s eccentric pole system is still without parallel on the market. This system rotates at 4,000 rpm over a working width of two metres
The non-ferrous metals separator has a rapidly rotating magnetic pole system that induces eddy currents in the non-ferrous metals transported on the con-veyor belt. The resulting opposing magnetic field creates repulsion effects, which enables the non-ferrous product to be ejected from the stream of materi-al. The splitter plate in the parabolic trajectory separates the non-ferrous prod-uct from the remaining stream of material. “We made sure the splitter plate was adjustable so that the system can react to a variety of input materials. Before we did this, we analysed the flight properties of various materials and used this information to work on the settings,” says Jochen Schäfer, a design engineer at STEINERT. “The splitter can be adjusted to specific trajectories in order to ac-commodate a variety of separation tasks.”
“There is nothing comparable on the market for conveyor belt widths of two metres,” says Karl Hoffmann, Key Account Manager at STEINERT. The extremely high pole change frequency activates even tiny particles measuring less than a millimetre so that they can be separated.
Partners are well prepared for the future
Waignein is delighted with the cooperation with STEINERT. “Ten years ago, you could only obtain standardized devices on the market. It was impossible for us to adapt them to our specific needs. That’s why we are extremely happy that we and STEINERT have been able to jointly develop a system that precisely meets our requirements.”
Galloo has been cooperating with STEINERT since 1985, when the recycler bought its first non-ferrous metals separator. “We have always been impressed by the products’ quality. The machines just keep on running — some of them for 15 years now — and they require little maintenance,” says Waignein. “Although there are machines on the market that might seem to be economical, they don’t benefit us if they only run reliably for a year and then cause expensive downtimes.” Today, most of Galloo’s non-ferrous metals separators and magnets come from STEINERT.
Galloo is a special customer for STEINERT as well, because the recycler has provided the engineers at the development and design department with valuable feedback for the past 31 years. “That’s why we decided to draw on Galloo’s practical experience when we updated the splitter in 2016. The large amounts of fine-grain material prompted us to solve this problem and create a very profitable solution for our customer,” says Hoffmann. The result is a system that sorts fine-grain materials even more reliably and economically than before. That’s why Hoffmann is certain that “our continuous cooperation with customers such as Galloo and our ongoing research and development activities make us a reliable and competent partner for creating separation and sorting solutions.”
STEINERT EddyC FINES
- Application: Separation of non-ferrous metals (aluminium, copper, brass, etc.) for particles measuring 0.5–10 mm in:
- Incineration bottom ash (waste incineration ash)
- Automobile shredder residue (ASR)
- Electronic waste
- PET flakes
- Splitter adjustable with millimetre precision
- Belts can be easily changed in approximately 10 minutes
- Magnet: permanent (neodymium iron boron NdFeB N52), high-frequency rotating magnet system
- A neodymium magnet system that rotates at high frequency (special eccentric magnet system) creates a strong magnetic eddy current field. The eddy current field is used to deflect and sort non-ferrous metals out of the stream of materials.
- Magnet rotor speed: 2,610–4,000 rpm
- Working width: 1,000, 1,500, 2,000 mm
- Belt speed: 1–2.5 m/s