Steinert champions LIBS sorting of aluminium alloys

Steinert has introduced the LSS laser sorting system, which enables the separation of aluminium alloys from each other using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS).

This innovation is expected to benefit the automotive sector in particular owing to the fact that the auto body panel stamping process generates up to 50% scrap. Previously, separation of aluminium scrap by alloy groups 1xxx to 7xxx ‘was not practical’ because an inline sorting technique was not available, explains Uwe Habich, technical director at Steinert. ‘Our LSS system now makes this possible and amplifies the sorting process.’

The Steinert LSS represents a fully-automated sorting system that separates aluminium alloys of the 5xxx and 6xxx series into type-isolated batches and is ideally suited to stamping waste material of 20-60 mm in width and 60-150 mm in length, according to the company.

The sorting unit achieves an output of several tonnes per hour, with Steinert maintaining that return on investment can be achieved in under a year. The sorting process takes place at high conveyor speeds of 2 to 3 metres per second.

The calibration methods stored in the measuring unit routinely analyse concentrations of the alloying elements copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, silicon, zinc and chromium. ‘Test runs in our laboratory achieve a separation success ratio of 90%, with a purity of 99%,’ Habich comments.

And he continues: ‘For this system, we have created a set-up consisting of several conveyor channels and conveyor belts, which ensures that the material always flows past the laser in such a way that the laser pulses hit the material’s surface. These pulses vaporise tiny particles of the material. This process creates visible light that is simultaneously recorded and analysed in order to identify the alloy and its individual components as well as their percentages in the alloy.’

Steinert’s corporate test centre in the German city of Cologne offers LIBS technology tests, the company adds.

Meanwhile, the new system will be presented at the Aluminium 2016 event (stand 11J75 in Hall 11), to be held in D├╝sseldorf in late November/early December this year.

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