Having been in the recycling business for 40 years and no longer able to market certain aluminum grades globally, Rob Weber, owner of Garden Street Iron & Metal in Fort Myers, Florida, wanted to find another option for selling 6063 aluminum alloy.
Florida generates a large volume of scrap extrusions from fabricated screen enclosures for pools. To make the best return on an abundantly available material, Weber decided to purchase a system to further clean the contaminated extrusions, with the goal of providing a clean product for local mills. “Being from south Florida, we probably handle more extrusions than about anything. It just seemed like the right decision to make,” Weber says.
He determined that installing a system that includes a High-Frequency Eddy Current Separator manufactured by Eriez, Erie, Pennsylvania, would not only serve as a business opportunity to sell a cleaner product but also create a competitive edge over other scrap processors and aluminum dealers in the area. “I’m making a product that generally was going overseas, and [I am now] able to make a product for mills right here in our own state,” Weber explains.
Garden Street uses a few processes to liberate the extrusions into smaller pieces that then cycle through the system that includes the Eriez equipment. The eddy current is the “failsafe” for separating the aluminum to ensure that stainless screws, spline, trash, plastic, wood, dirt, sand, glass or “anything that wouldn’t belong in aluminum” are not in the final product, he says. The eddy current separates the fine nonferrous materials so that, per Weber, “all we’re getting at the end is a good, clean product.”
Having installed the eddy current separator in April, three local mills have been running sample loads and trying out the clean product from Garden Street. The initial results are good. Using the Eriez eddy as a final step in the process is essential, and the three mill customers “have all given high marks,” says Weber. “One to 2 percent” of additional nonferrous material is separated from the aluminum in Garden Street’s system, but “that 1 or 2 percent could really make a difference” in the purity of the mill’s final product.
Weber’s customers then melt the aluminum to make a 6063 or 6061 alloy. The additional purity of the material allows the mills to decrease melt time and reduce emissions, making the process easier and requiring less energy, he explains.
Ultimately, Weber says he is satisfied with the results because, in the changing aluminum market, “we’re still able to go out and create a home for this material.”