Monday 25 October 2021

X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) and its significance in scrap metal recycling

Photo Reference: From Pixabay copyright free images.

Sorting and segregation play crucial role in scrap metal recycling business. It paves the path to realize the value of scrap metals and its potential. XRF is essentially a non-destructive analytical technique that is used to determine the elemental composition of materials. XRF analyzer's are capable of determining the chemistry of a sample by measuring the fluorescent/secondary X-ray as it is excited by a primary X-ray source.

This technology is proving to be an excellent tool for qualitative and quantitative analysis of scrap metal’s composition. Now that we know what XRF does, let’s find out how the XRF processes information: A sample is first irradiated with high energy X-rays from a controlled X-ray tube. When an atom is struck with an X-ray of sufficient energy, an electron from one of the atom’s inner orbital shells is dislocated. The atom then regains stability. It then fills the vacancy left in the inner orbital shell with an electron from one of the atom’s higher energy orbital shells. By releasing a fluorescent X-ray, the electron then drops to the lower energy state.

X-ray’s energy is equal to the specific difference in energy between the two quantum states of the electron. The measurement of this energy forms the basis of XRF breakdown.

Hand-held XRF analyzer's are capable of quantifying composition of wide array of metal alloys like aluminum, copper, ferrous and titanium alloys, cobalt and nickel alloys, etc. It can also work with tramp elements like tin, copper, or phosphorus. As a matter of fact, XRF is highly reliable source for an urban miner.

XRF helps the scrap metal recyclers in improving their profitability by reducing the risk of sending the out-of-specification materials to furnace or further processing. This helps the recyclers avoid penalties and maintain their repute in the market.

Sorting and segregation in metal recycling industry has come a long way. Back in the 90s, recyclers would use a grinding wheel to conduct spark tests to identify ferrous metals by the pattern, color, and length of the sparks they produced. They also used varied chemical tests, for example, detecting copper using a drop of nitric acid as it produces bluish hue. Such methods were prone to errors of human judgement and also time consuming. With advancements made in the recycling technologies, XRF is one of the key players in ensuring accurate sorting and segregation, leading to optimizing recycling efforts.

XRF analyzer's are available in hand-held models making their usage fairly easy and economical. Recyclers in have been seen in including them in their business. Their dependency is only projected to grow over the coming years.

Disclaimer: This article(s) has been prepared solely for information purpose, using publicly-accessible sources that are believed to be accurate and reliable at the time of publishing. LUCKY GROUP accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage resulting from the use of information, images or opinions expressed in the report. LUCKY GROUP does not give warranty of any kind regarding the completeness, accuracy and reliability of the information included in the article(s).

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