Monday | 27 August, 2012 | 8:56 am

Hammering metal

By Nick Wright

Behr’s new shredder takes on heavier metals, chewing tons of scrap in minutes

August 2012 - Whether wrecked cars are towed off the road or unwanted appliances quietly disappear from the curb, recycled metal objects eventually become raw materials again. Chances are some of those objects end up at Behr Iron & Metal’s Peoria, Ill., scrap processing center.

At the heart of the operation is Behr’s new massive scrap shredder that devastates flattened school buses, refrigerators and heaps of metal at a 150 tons per hour or about 2 1/2 tons per minute.

“Primarily it’s automobiles and white goods,” says Dave Rumer, vice president of Behr’s Peoria facility. “And then any type of light-plate scrap when it comes to manufacturing scrap. Cars are typically flattened or logged, and we do any kind of iron or steel scrap that’s basically under 1/4 in thick.”

Rockford, Ill.-based Behr installed its TSH 88 Hybrid Texas Shredder last autumn and began using it in May. The TSH 88 is manufactured by Metso Corp., Helsinki, a global supplier of mining, construction and energy equipment.

“It can be anything: refrigerators, appliances, lawnmowers, bicycles, water heaters, anything you can think of,” Rumer says, referring to objects the shredder eats. “Just obsolete consumer goods and automobiles.”

The shredder’s vitals are impressive. At more than five stories tall, the $12 million shredder has 26 hammers that weight 450 pounds each, as well as 26 manganese end caps at 240 pounds each. In all, it weights 605,490 pounds. A central rotor spins with hammers attached, which drag the scrap across a series of grates. The hammers keep beating the metal until it can fall through holes in the grates, says Rumer. This machine can process more dense material than its previous shredder.

“Ultimately you’re limited by the opening of the machine. It’s not so much that we’re shredding bigger items, just heavier items,” he adds.

As many as two cranes unload scrap from trucks while two other cranes feed the shredder. The material is simply picked up and put on a conveyor belt, fed into the shredder and comes out the other end. There are three main material flows: fluff (nonmetallics), ferrous materials and residue, which is a combo of nonferrous metals and nonmetallics. A magnetic drum separates the iron content from the stream.

“The iron and steel goes directly to steel mills,” Rumer says. “There are other commodities that are shredded, for example plate scrap bushling type material. There’s some black manufacturing scrap that typically is a cleaner product with better specs. Normally, that is sold to a foundry.”

The copper, aluminum and brass in the residue are sent to Behr’s South Beloit, Ill., facility, where those metals are sorted out and exported. A percentage of the leftover residue gets exported as a mix known as zorba scrap.

Metal flux
As a scrap company, Behr can take the pulse of certain metal trends. For example, in the case of scrap that auto yards deliver, cast iron motor blocks are getting smaller, and more of them are aluminum.

“We’re seeing less and less iron in a vehicle and more lightweight materials now,” Rumer says. “The increase in lightweight materials and their higher value means, in many cases, that material is out of the vehicles before we get them.”

What Behr is seeing from its inflow is as the price of copper has gone up companies are substituting aluminum for copper when they can, such as in electrical applications and radiators.

Plus, the makeup of the scrap is changing. Behr is seeing scrap that has been recycled three or four times already after being processed, sold to a minimill, remelted and returned. “In consumer goods, if the recycled materials are coming from a minimill, how long does a refrigerator last, 10 or 15 years? That may have been recycled a few times before,” Rumer says.

In the long term, more metals will be shredded as opposed to sheared because of the formidable metal hammering power available in machines like the Hybrid Texas Shredder.

“Just from the standpoint of the manufacturing process, machines being scrapped aren’t as big and heavy as they used to be,” he says. MM


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