Recycle Cu and Al metals

Principal investigator: Haixue YAN
Funding source(s): Eako Ltd
 Start: 01-05-2022  /  End: 06-12-2022
 Amount: £25,000

There are millions of tons of waste metals including Al cans and Cu cables in the waste streams in the UK and in other countries, which not only cause damage to our environment but also waste our limited supply of mined and processed elements/materials Although there are large companies working on metals recycling, their processing technologies require significant up-front capital investment.  In addition, their recycled materials normally require further processing, such as hot working or cold working, to make final products, which directly extends the production process line and uses additional energy, producing additional CO2 emissions.

The aim of this project is to develop a technology that recycles Al and Cu waste metals to make final products directly using a sustainable source of energy (solar).  Specifically, we will recycle Cu in waste cables and Al from drinks cans. The objective is to develop a technology that is low-cost and not capital intensive that will disrupt the current market by reducing barriers to use, enabling SMEs to recycle waste metal materials into new products directly.  

The impact case here is not only to enable the development of new business models based on recycled materials but also to incentivize rubbish and waste stream collection benefitting the environment and promoting the sustainable use of finite resources.  Moreover, we envisage mass adoption of the technology leading to significant reductions in CO2 emissions that are traditionally associated with the production of primary Al and Cu metals from mineral raw materials. The aim of our technology is to increase the percentage of sustainable produced recycled metals and decrease the percentage of primary metals in the materials market, which will also directly reduce the CO2 emissions in line with the objectives of COP-26.