Recycling Product News Logo

Analyzing the options of handheld analyzers

Scrap operations can improve efficiency and the bottom line by selecting the right analysis options for their sorting facilities

The Oxford Instruments Vulcan on the job.
The Oxford Instruments Vulcan on the job.

Company info

Tubney Woods
Abingdon, Oxfordshire,
GB, OX13 5QX

Website:
oxford-instruments.com

Read more

Ringoes, NJ
US, 08551

Website:
bruker.com

Read more

Boschstr. 10
Kleve,
DE, 47533

Website:
spectro.com

Phone number:
49 / 2821 / 8 92-22 00

Read more

2 Radcliff Road
Tewksbury, MA
US, 01876

Website:
thermofisher.com

Phone number:
978-670-7460

Read more

Scrap handling operations can be thrown into disarray when sorting isn’t done properly on the line. Whether it is metals being combined erroneously or tramp material being missed in the process, businesses need to ensure that their product – and their profit – is protected.

The job of sorting scrap metal has been made much easier and efficient thanks to technology. Handheld analyzers allow sorting staff to check material on the belt and ensure that it is being sorted correctly, avoiding contamination and improving financial return.

The development of handheld analyzers using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) or Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) technology is continuing to expand and provide more options to scrap recyclers. We asked some leading manufacturers about the advances in technology and key factors to consider when purchasing handheld analyzer units for metal sorting.

While handheld analysis has been around and available for about a decade, modern units offer far more than their older counterparts, according to Mikko Jarvikivi, product manager – LIBS with Oxford Instruments. 

“Advances in technology, miniaturization and connectivity mean that today’s instruments provide much better performance and faster analysis than those available ten years ago,” Jarvikivi said. “Also, so-called light elements (Be, Mg, Al, Si, P and S) can now be accurately analyzed in field conditions without expensive and inconvenient gas purge. This is important because scrap dealers today need to monitor more and more unwanted elements in the scrap stream, sometimes even in low ppm levels.”

Speed of analysis is important as well, as the faster product is processed, the more efficient the user’s operation can be. 

“With the latest technology, the analysis that used to take 30 to 60 seconds can now be done in one to five seconds, so the effect on productivity is significant,” Jarvikivi said. 

According to Mark Lessard, business development manager, portable analytical instruments for Thermo Fisher Scientific, the greater range of elements being picked up by handheld units is a major step forward.

“Handheld XRF analyzers are able to identify more elements in different matrices, with lower levels of detection than ever before, including gold, silver, plastics and electronic waste,” Lessard said. “Recent innovations have brought the introduction of smart capabilities, while also increasing speed and efficiency. In the latest generation of analyzers, capabilities range from Wi-Fi to data customization, sample photographs and much more.”

Thermo Scientific's XL5

As technology has advanced, manufacturers have worked to incorporate those advances each step of the way. Spectro Analytical Instruments has steadily upgraded its handheld XRF analyzers, keeping in mind the needs of the people using the units throughout the day.

“For example, xSORT has been designed so operators don’t have to switch methods between samples, or bother with helium flushes or vacuum systems,” said Tom Bloomer, Spectro Analytical North American sales & product manager, handheld spectrometers. “Advanced detector technology, introduced just last year, has dramatically improved light element analysis and the instrument’s ability to quickly and accurately identify many of the new high-value alloys entering the scrap yard.”

Oxford’s Vulcan analyzer uses LIBS technology, which the manufacturer states is faster than other techniques while ensuring the tool is ergonomic, allowing ease of operation. In situations such as quality control and assurance, those factors ensure that large quantities of scrap metal can be sorted quickly and easily. Simple to operate, the Vulcan analyzer, when analyzing aluminum, provides both the commercial grade of aluminum and its chemical composition, while reducing potential for user error for reliable, consistent results.

Considering all options

Because there are so many options available when it comes to analyzers, buyers must know what they’re looking for when seeking out the right choice for their operation.

“Many factors should be considered when purchasing a new device – it can be confusing, as there are many options and analyzers generally look similar,” said Bloomer. “Basic considerations typically include weight, battery life, some performance specs, and always price. However, there are core feature sets that should also be considered as new, high-value alloys are showing up more often in scrap yards.”

Bloomer said advanced detection capability for light elements is one more recent factor that can shape the needs of a scrap operation’s analysis choices.

“If light elements are of interest, evaluate the instrument’s detection limits and how much analysis time the instrument requires. Other considerations might include wireless capability to manage data and video camera installation to see exact analysis spots,” Bloomer stated. Also, ask if there is an integrated internal standard or if you need to carry around standards. Perhaps most critically, be sure to review the supplier’s support structure and your ability to easily access technical help after a purchase is made.”

Keep the set requirements of the operation in mind when considering the options available on the market, Oxford’s Jarvikivi suggested.

“There are always tradeoffs between technologies, and no single technique can provide optimal performance for all analysis needs,” he said. “For example, an instrument that can do accurate trace element analysis might not be suitable for high speed alloy sorting, and vice-versa.”

Handheld analyzers get a lot of use in difficult work sites around scrap yards, so it’s important to be certain they can handle the abuse.

“I believe buyers should focus more on the reliability of HH-XRF and HH-LIBS systems over time, and resist low price temptation,” said Jerry Sooter, marketing manager, handheld, mobile and portable products for Bruker. “With lower-priced units, a significant part of the cost can occur after the purchase, so selecting a vendor who you can establish a long-term relationship with is essential.”

Finding a company familiar with the recycling industry is one good way to ensure a good, lasting relationship, added Lessard, who noted that Thermo Fisher has been working with recyclers for more than two decades and has incorporated that knowledge in its equipment and service.

“Our goal is to equip customers with the most innovative and precise analytical devices available. More importantly, we want to help our customers solve their problems in the best, most cost-effective way,” Lessard said. “From a technology standpoint, buyers should seek analyzers that are small, fast and intuitive, so that the technicians using the devices can easily obtain results and be confident in their accuracy.”

For Thermo Fisher, a small size means reduced operator fatigue. Its Niton XL5 handheld XRF analyzer weighs in at 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg), a size that the company states is the smallest among alloy handheld XRF analyzers on the market. 

“Using the Niton XL5, users are able to detect elements on the periodic table at much lower levels than in the past, particularly light elements like aluminum,” Lessard said. “Thermo Fisher has optimized the geometry between the X-ray source and the sample, ultimately improving limits of detection and shortening measurement times.”

Another lightweight offering, the Spectro xSORT Alloy offers grade identification in seconds, while the AlloyPlus can analyze most alloys in two seconds, Bloomer said. Alloys containing difficult light elements like aluminum, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus and sulphur may take up to seven seconds, he noted. 

“The xSORT has a shutter that closes the measurement window between analyses; it also functions as the sample material for (Spectro’s) unique automatic ICAL standardization, which eliminates the need to carry around standards,” Bloomer described. 

Quick response is important, but rugged reliability is also a big selling point for handheld analyzers. Oxford Instruments’ X-MET8000 handheld XRF and Vulcan are both designed to meet the needs of busy scrap yards.

“Both use industrial-grade material for the housing, shock absorbers, minimal moving parts, and large heat sinks to work reliably and without interruption even in hot environments,” said Jarvikivi. “They are dust- and splashproof (IP54 certified) and can be used outdoors as well as indoors. Vulcan also meets the strict requirements set by the MIL-STD-810G standard, and the X-MET includes a shield that prevents sharp objects from damaging key components, therefore ensuring low maintenance costs.”

Bruker also offers protection for its devices, including the S1 Titan, Sooter noted.

“The Titan comes standard with a patented detector protection device called the Titan Detector Shield. Since introduction, we have had zero detector punches,” Sooter said. “[The shield] is an integral part of the detector. In addition, our design allows analysis of both light and heavy elements without the need for any calibration adjustment or window switch.”

Units like the Bruker EOS 500 handle multiple types of product.

Changing with the times

As the scrap handling industry continues to expand in terms of the material it can accept, analyzers will continue to expand in capability, according to several of the experts interviewed. More types of materials will mean more challenges.

“Scrap sorting will continue to become more challenging as new, complex but higher-value alloys appear in the scrap yard more frequently,” said Bloomer. “Alloys combining aluminum with metals such as copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, silicon and lithium are used extensively in applications from aerospace to automotive and construction. Recyclers will need to process hundreds of these specialized alloys, each with different performance characteristics and different price points. Handheld analyzers using multi-element analysis will play an increasingly critical role in differentiating these valuable alloys and enabling recyclers to improve efficiencies and profitability.”

Electronic waste is another factor that will likely expand the need for handheld analyzers in various areas.

“Recycling of electronic waste such as plastics from recycled computers or cell phones has been on the rise. For example, cement plants in Japan rely on our analyzers to determine the types of plastics they are burning to make their cement, keeping them safe from potential toxins,” Lessard noted.

In some cases, the expansion of technology may mean a growth of one of the leading types – LIBS.

“We will see laser (LIBS) instruments become increasingly common at the scrap yard, and partially replace XRF analyzers,” said Jarvikivi. “LIBS won’t replace XRF completely, because there are several applications including non-metallic samples, uncommon alloys and trace elements where XRF will provide better performance.”

Data management and interconnectedness will also become more important for collection and tracking of materials.

“We’re seeing an increase in interconnectedness and the need for our products to possess cloud and data management capabilities,” Lessard said.

Jarvikivi agreed, noting that “Instead of just storing the data in the instrument and using it locally, the latest tools make it possible to share the data and access it in real time from any computer, anywhere.”

Customized uses of handheld analysis is coming as well, making it easier and more efficient to scan materials in many different ways.

“Bruker often works with scrap yards that may have special analytical needs; it could be detecting a precious metal coating or analyzing a particular element at low levels,” Sooter said. “When the generic scrap handling does not fulfill those needs, Bruker’s scientists will be able to provide a customized calibration for our customers.”

“We are excited about the potential to mount analyzers on conveyor belts or even on drones and determine the makeup of metal compounds out of physical reach,” Lessard added. “Overall, we are constantly thinking about the future, and homing in on all possible market innovations to better understand our customers’ needs.”

More from Metals Recycling

Recycling and radiation control industries join with Indiana Department of Homeland Security to promote radiation safety

Undetected radioactive material can have severe consequences in a scrap yard. In an effort increase awareness around radiation safety, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), in collaboration with The Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), today released an educational video to help recycling workers in identifying radioactive sources, isolating the material, and notifying the proper authorities. 

Sennebogen 830 E electric drive system allows for excellent on-site mobility

According to SENNEBOGEN, their eGreen electrically powered material handlers have been proven to reduce operating costs by up to 50%, when compared to the same machines powered by diesel. Available from the factory on any SENNEBOGEN purpose-built material handler, the eGreen electric drive has been widely adopted in applications from scrap recycling to barge loading.

New handheld analyzer uses LIBS for fast, accurate carbon and alloy measurement in the field

Designed for scrap recyclers, petrochemical plants, fabricators and quality control departments seeking to measure low concentrations of carbon in metal, along with a range of elements, Thermo Scientific's new lightweight Niton Apollo handheld LIBS analyzer features laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) for speed, increased accuracy and greater mobility.

Painting the right picture for recycling

The world needs more positive recycling stories. Article after article paints an inaccurate picture of our industry, often implying that recycling is pointless. Beyond the depressing side effect of being constantly inundated by negative news, what is the true cost of this type of media coverage and what can we do to protect our industry from it? 

Taurus Diablo scrap & auto baler latest available from ELV Select

The Taurus Diablo scrap metal and auto baler DB62, available in North America through Ontario-based ELV Select, is designed for baling of cars and metal shred. According to ELV, these units are built to make very dense bales, with maximum density of 1,000 kg/m3, and to be quick and easy to transport as well as simple to operate, making them ideal for companies with multiple yards or for rental to other metal recyclers.

Crushing it at Silver Creek Recycling

Silver Creek Recycling, located in Redcliff, Alberta, is a family business owned by Danny and Twila Luba and their son Bradyn. Bradyn's wife, Amanda, is a registered social worker. Danny and Twila Lubas' two daughters are Tajia, a business graduate working in commercial lending, and Taryn, a registered nurse. The family has operated Silver Creek Steel Mobile, a mobile recycling operation, since the late 1990s, servicing industrial locations throughout Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, from large auto wreckers and landfills, to estate cleanups and oilfield demolition. 

Eriez UHF Eddy Current Separator helping Waukesha Iron & Metal recover metallic fines from ASR

Eriez introduced its Ultra High-Frequency (UHF) Eddy Current Separator in 2016 as a way for its auto shredding customers to generate significant additional revenue by recovering aluminum, copper and other nonferrous fines that had formerly been lost within the larger auto shredder residue (ASR) stream.

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Get our newsletter

Learn more

Canadian government to invest $20 million in Gerdau Ameristeel

July 26, Jennifer O'Connell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (Youth Economic Opportunity), on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced a $20-million investment in an $81.2-million project that will help Gerdau Ameristeel upgrade its facilities in Whitby and Cambridge, Ontario. The investment will modernize steel production lines, reduce manufacturing costs, reduce the amount of scrap metal going to landfills and improve production capability for billets, which are semi-finished long steel products used to produce other steel-based products such as angles, rebar, flats or channels. The investment will also create 108 jobs and maintain 710 more in Whitby and Cambridge.

New Cutmaster Black Series plasma cutting consumables last 60% longer

Thermal Dynamics, an ESAB brand, has launched its new Cutmaster Black Series of enhanced performance plasma cutting consumables, which extend operating life by 60 percent compared to standard life electrodes. They are featured on the SL60QD 1Torch, which comes with the Cutmaster 60i handheld air plasma cutting system. Coupled with internal enhancements on the Cutmaster 60i, the new electrode design increases the unit's rated cut and piercing capacity to 3/4 in., a 16.6 percent improvement. The Cutmaster 60i can sever metal up to 1-1/2 in.

Bunting Magnetics celebrating 60 years in business

On August 3rd, 2019, Bunting Magnetics Co. will be celebrating its 60th anniversary as a company. Bunting Magnetics Co. is an industry leader in the design, manufacture, and sales of cutting-edge magnetic equipment used in applications such as magnetic separation, metal detection, conveyor systems, and magnetic printing cylinders. The main industries the company serves include the food and pharmaceutical industries, plastics, recycling, mining, printing, manufacturing, automotive, chemical, ceramics, textiles, and more.

Lindner to demo screening and shredding solutions at RecyclingAKTIV 2019

A multitude of different configuration options make Lindner's mobile shredders and system solutions the perfect choice for universal waste processing. The company will be demonstrating just what is possible in the world of waste wood and light scrap recycling from 5 to 7 September at RecyclingAKTIV 2019 in Karlsruhe, Germany. 

Eriez P-Rex rare earth scrap drums provide 50 percent greater recovery of ferrous from bottom ash for Covanta

Engineers at Covanta, one of the world's largest owners and operators of facilities dedicated to recovering energy from waste, reported an immediate 50 percent improvement in recovery of ferrous materials from bottom ash after upgrading a conventional scrap drum to an Eriez P-Rex®(Permanent Rare Earth Xtreme®) Scrap Drum at one of the company's United States facilities. 

American Manganese produces high purity material from pilot plant project

American Manganese Inc. (AMY) is pleased to report that the Company's contract lab, Kemetco Research Inc., has produced a high purity NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) hydroxide filter cake (shown above) during the final stages of the RecycLiCo Pilot Plant project. The filter cake was produced using a 35L batch sample of Pregnant Leach Solution that was collected during Stages 1 and 2 of the Pilot Plant project.

Sierra Recycling & Demolition celebrates 60 years

Celebrating their 60th year of commitment and service to their customers and the recycling industry, Sierra Recycling & Demolition was started by Ben Sacco in 1959. Now the sister company of Sierra International Machinery, the California-based recycling equipment specialist, Sierra has deep roots in recycling, and they have for 60 years. Based on this foundation, Sierra International Machinery states: "Our equipment is designed by recyclers for recyclers. At Sierra, we have the same experiences and challenges that other recyclers have, and we know the problems and the issues other recyclers face. We use the experiences from Sierra Recycling and Demolition, our engineers, operation managers, and service technicians to produce superior machines that we actively use in our own yard."

Subscribe to our free magazine

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more

Collaboration between Goudsmit Magnetics and Sortatec results in a single separator for waste flows

Cooperation between Dutch company Goudsmit Magnetics of Waalre and German company Sortatechas resulted in a mobile metal separator that separates both ferrous and non-ferrous metals from bulkflows. The companies will jointly demonstrate the Goudsmit Mobile MetalXpert at the Recycling Aktivin in Karlsruhe, Germany. 

CM introduces Solo single-shaft shredders lineup

CM Shredders has introduced a new single-shaft shredders line that features a "Smart-Ram" system which automatically adjusts ram pressure for maximum efficiency. The new CM SOLO series is ruggedly built and engineered for performance, durability and low cost of operation. Units produce minimal dust and require reduced power usage and manpower.

KINSHOFER P-series orange peel grapples handle heavier loads and increase efficiency

KINSHOFER offers an extensive range of excavator orange peel grapples for scrap, demolition, loading and unloading applications. Unlike competitive grapples, according to Kinshofer, the P-Series hydraulic system is fully enclosed and protected, reducing the risk of damage to hoses and other components. Additionally, the grapple's unique tine design enhances material penetration, increasing the amount contractors can safely secure in one cycle and saving time on the jobsite. 

TOMRA'S Frank Van de Winkel to participate on Harbour Aluminum Summit Market Outlook Panel

Frank van de Winkel, business development manager for TOMRA Sorting Recycling, will participate in a panel discussion during Harbor's 12th Aluminum Outlook Summit, held June 4-6, 2019, at Chicago's Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. The Session 5 panel discussion will focus on North America's aluminum scrap & secondary market outlook, diving deep into emerging trends and market challenges. The session will take place in the Radisson's Atlantic Ballroom, starting at 8:25 a.m. on Thursday, June 6. 

Lifting magnets, power sources and electrical control systems: FAQ with Winkle Industries

Some magnets are simple, like the small, hand-held versions that hold paper clips or which affix photos, calendars and notes to metal. Magnets attached to mobile material handlers to lift metal are much more complicated. Following are answers to some of the most popular questions often asked about lifting magnets, power supply sources and electrical control systems. 

Q&A with Robin Wiener

Many North American recycling businesses rely on the hard work of industry associations to help ward off burdensome legislation. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) in the U.S. and the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries(CARI) in Canada provide members with educational resources, networking opportunities and advocacy muscle at home and abroad. These associations also have a long history of collaborating with one another to combat common issues. 

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Get our newsletter

Learn more

Newco Metal & Auto Recycling commissions Wendt modular shredder and separation system

St. John's, Newfoundland-based Newco Metal and Auto Recycling, in April, commissioned an M6090 Modular Automobile Shredder Plant and Non-Ferrous Separation System from WENDT Corporation. The installation represents Newco's first automobile shredder and offers new market opportunities and economic advantages for processing the company's scrap metal.

Recycling industry seeks relief from excessive rail charges at Surface Transportation Board

The nation's recycling industry is calling on the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to address unreasonable railroad practices related to railcar supply and storage fees. Members of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) today testified before an STB hearing that rail is a critical mode for transporting ferrous and nonferrous scrap metal, particularly for distances greater than 200 miles. Since many recycling facilities are served by only one major freight railroad, there are rarely alternative modes of transportation - which means scrap metal and other recycling companies are too often suffering poor rail service and seeing skyrocketing fees.

American Manganese applies for battery recycling patents in seven countries

Larry W. Reaugh, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Manganese Inc. ("American Manganese" or "AMY" or the "Company"), is pleased to report the Company has filed National Phase Patent Applications for the Company's flagship technology on recycling lithium-ion battery cathode materials. Seven additional countries have been selected for National Phase Applications for the Company's original PCT Application No. PCT/US2017/060794 filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization on November 9, 2017. In addition to US Patent No. 10,246,343, which was granted on April 2019, AMY has selected the following additional countries for the National Phase Applications:

Recycling industry calls on U.S. Mint to resume mutilated coin redemption program after unexpected shutdown

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) expressed concern over the announcement by the U.S. Mint to re-suspend the Mutilated Coin Redemption Program and is offering its expertise to work with the agency to identify and resolve any concerns as quickly as possible. Along with the Mint, ISRI shares the goal of recovering and recycling coins while protecting the program's integrity. 

Liebherr presents material handling machines for recycling applications at bauma 2019

At bauma 2019 Liebherr presented two material handling machines: LH 18 M Industry and LH 26 M Industry, both specially designed for recycling applications. With these models, Liebherr says the company is positioning itself specifically in the field of small material handling machines, thereby expanding its product portfolio. As an example, for its electric material handling technology, Liebherr presented the LH 26 Industry with mobile undercarriage.

Subscribe to our free magazine

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more