Increased metal recycling reduces environmental impact within the steel industry
17 June, 2022
Metal recovery, recycling and resource efficiency are increasingly important as access to virgin raw materials diminishes. Secondary metallic materials from industrial processes and discarded consumer products are the new mines of our time. At the same time, use of energy for smelting metals decreases in comparison to primary ore-based metal production. Overall, increased recycling of metals enables increased circularity and more efficient resource utilisation for the steel industry.
Society's transition away from fossil fuels is placing ever greater focus on efficient metal recovery and recycling. As more and more players view an increased proportion of secondary metal raw materials as a principle means of reducing CO2 emissions, metals must be sorted better to allow full utilisation.
Swerim is working continuously to increase metal recovery in industry and thereby ensure the availability of raw materials. By combining expertise spanning several industrial sectors, we can create innovative and holistic solutions for greater resource efficiency. This includes all handling from the time the waste and residues arise until the material is recovered or recycled.
Sorting and reuse
In principle, metals can be recycled indefinitely, but it must be possible to separate them from each other and from other materials. By analysing, sorting and separating metals, the degree of recycling can be increased even further. Separation can be done either mechanically or chemically by utilising the specific properties of different metals. Swerim has developed several different innovative methods and processes for analysing and separating metals.
"More efficient use of scrap is an important part of the green transition," says Johan Björkvall, coordinator for process metallurgy at Swerim.
"The interaction between technological development and metallurgy is a vital component that makes Swerim a strong player when it come to taking methods from the development phase to industrial-scale implementation," says Jonas Petersson, coordinator for analytical process monitoring at Swerim
Efficient scrap usage is good for the environment
Swerim, together with LTU, is developing a new sensor solution based on chemical composition and volumetric measurement in the newly started project OptiScrap. Sensors for chemical analysis of individual pieces are used, but to achieve correct overall analysis of the total scrap raw material, new methods are needed. To be able to practically analyse large and complex scrap pieces is a challenge. Stena, as a scrap supplier, and SSAB and SMT, as scrap users, see this as a crucial part of the development of metal recycling. By detecting and analysing scrap at the level of individual pieces, the scrap can be better utilised and matched for the right steel type during steelmaking.
"I look forward to working with OptiScrap, a project with clear focus on environmental and industrial benefit, the goal of which is to increase the us of scrap as a raw materials," says Louise Hagesjö, research engineer at Swerim and coordinator for OptiScrap.
The three-year project is funded by Vinnova via the strategic innovation programme Metallic Materials. In addition to Swerim, the project participants include Stena Recycling, SSAB, Sandvik Materials Technology and Luleå University of Technology.
- Jonas Petersson jonas.petersson [at] swerim.se, research leader for analytical process monitoring,
- Johan Björkvall, johan.bjorkvall [at] swerim.se, research leader for process metallurgy