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Roberto van den Kieboom: 'We are currently working on a unit capable of processing up to 70 tonnes per hour. '
Separating transformers, electric motors, but also small fractions of copper wire from ferrous scrap streams is a piece of cake for the TA-PO 1000, a solution developed by Dutchman Roberto van den Kieboom.
TA-PO is a relatively young recycling technology firm from the Netherlands that designs and fabricates lines to separate magnetic material from partially magnetic material. Company founder and ceo Roberto Van den Kieboom is on a mission. ‘Asia’s scrap import restrictions have made clear there is no future for mixed materials,’ he says. ‘Our solutions help recyclers reach the higher purity and quality required by the smelters.’ Other advantages include multiple shredding and the end of any sorting by hand.
The TA-PO 1000 is a complete plug-and-play line that can be used to separate current electronic scrap flows from 0 to 130 mm in a clean iron fraction with less than 0.3% copper. This fraction after separation is approximately 80% of the total input of the TA-PO 1000 separator, the remaining 20% consists of transformers, electric motors, small copper wire, printed circuit boards and more.
Tiny copper fractions
Van den Kieboom: ‘These e-scrap fractions are often cleaned as much as possible by hand sorting. However, it appears that the ferrous metal usually contains more than 0.3% copper, which is a shame because it cannot be used as a high-quality raw material. And the copper is in the iron fraction for which ultimately is not paid for.’
Another thing, says the entrepreneur, it’s impossible to separate small copper wire by hand. ‘But by using the TA-PO 1000, even the smallest pieces of wire automatically end up with the transformers and electric motors.’
The TA-PO saves labour costs. Separating eight tonnes of e-scrap fraction by hand requires four human sorters. The TA-PO 1000 separator can be used 24/7 with an up-time of 99%.
The TA-PO 1000 features a specially developed magnet which separates 100% magnetic parts (clean iron) from partly magnetic parts (transformers, electric motors, printed circuit boards, etc.)at a high speed via a vibrating feeder, chute and conveyor belt through amagnetic field.
Asked for the machine’s capacity, Van den Kieboom says: ‘It all depends on the scrap input, size of the fractions and the settings of the technology. On average, it is ten to thirty tonnes per hour. But we are currently working on a unit capable of processing up to 70 tonnes per hour.’
Easy to maintain
Bulk weight, fraction size and required settings determine the capacity of the TA-PO 1000. Smart design means maintenance is carried out quickly.Challenging parts such as side guide caps and the sliding channel can be openedautomatically via a touchscreen, conveniently as well as safely because the machine can nolonger be started at these times.
All TA-PO 1000 separation machines are equipped as standard with a modem so that support canalways be provided remotely.Adjustments can also be carried out by the operator’s own staff after a brief explanation. When acorrect separation result has been achieved, this adjustment can easily be saved as standard and quickly recalled. The TA-PO 1000 can either be used as stand-alone unit or directly in line behind the shredder and existing magnet system.
Ready to use… indoors or outdoors
The TA-PO 1000 has a 15 metre cable and a 380 volt / 32 amp plug, so it canbe used everywhere without having to make special provisions in advance. The entire TA-PO 1000 separation machine is almost 11 metres long, 1.65 metres wide and 3.4metres high with a total weight of less than seven tonnes.
According to Van den Kieboom, indoor installation is preferable but the TA-PO 1000 also performs well under extreme climate conditions: ‘Even at minus 10 Celsius, but also at plus 45 Celsius’. Partly thanks to its galvanised and double-layer powder-coated base frame, a long service life is guaranteed.
A number of scrap suppliers and consumers said the earliest the reclassification can be implemented is March next year, and could even be pushed back to June if further complications arise with the new system. This delay will continue to cap global nonferrous scrap metal trade flow to China, the world's largest buyer.
Until the reclassification policy is implemented, Chinese buyers' import volumes will continue to be restricted by the quarterly import quota issued by the environmental authority. From 1 July 2020 onwards, all buyers will require licences issued under approved quarterly quotas before they can import any scrap metal. The scrap import quota volume has been falling and has been far below buyers' requirements.
Under the unannounced reclassification proposal, the required copper and aluminium content in Chinese scrap imports will be raised and impurities minimised. The proposal listed complex mandatory inspection procedures under which every batch of scrap imported into China will be sampled and tested for metal content, impurities and recovery rate.
Aluminium scrap will be required to be packaged according to size (65mm, 28-65mm and 28mm) and should be visually regular. The packaging should contain the scrap's description, size, weight, aluminium and alloy content, metal content, recovery rate, packaging type, origin and executive standard.
The scrap industry outside China was alarmed by the extent of the proposed standards and requirements, which are seen by many as exceedingly rigid and stringent. Many suppliers questioned the policy's practicality and cost-effectiveness.
"It's going to be very tough if you send 10 containers and they check four... that's going to cost. Everything is possible, it just has a price tag. It's going to put the trade in a couple of companies, which have the possibility to finance it. For small companies, it's going to be a nightmare," a European scrap buyer said.
The new requirement will add €20/t($22/t) in processing costs in order to package aluminium scrap according to sizes, a European scrap supplier said, adding that if the proposal is implemented in its current form, it may drastically reduce or even halt scrap imports to China.
"This is crazy. If this goes through, China will not receive any scrap. China doesn't have enough scrap. They will try to buy it in ingot form," the supplier said.
Melting and additional processing is required to turn scrap metal into ingot form, which is classed as raw material and for which there is no import restriction into China.
"If you have copper scrap and granules, you melt it into ingots and it would be refined when it reached China. That's heating up the metal twice. It's more energy-intensive. That's not logical if you want to reduce pollution. I don't think that's the right way to do it," a second European scrap supplier said.
Some market participants maintained that China will remain the largest scrap buyer in the world and sellers will have to find a way to process scrap to meet the new standards.
"For the past 15 years, the scrap industry was supported by the Chinese. They are the market maker," a third European supplier said. "Now the Chinese have recognised they paid too much for scrap metal for the past 10-15 years. We have to find ways to treat this scrap. India can't take all these materials."