Scrap Copper Analysis

Scrap Copper Analysis is a vital step in getting the most from recycled copper. Although the global demand for copper has taken a serious hit due to China’s construction slowdown, market specialists point to the red metal’s non-construction applications to offer renewed price support. The current global status of commodity copper entails a price that has measurably fallen and demand that has all but evaporated as China shifts away from apartment tower construction and infrastructure. However, this change occurred when copper producers were undergoing a new wave of production to meet a demand that no longer exists, swamping the world in surplus red metal. Fortunately, this surplus keeps scrap copper analysis in demand as a less expensive alternative to purchasing newly produced copper. Find out how the Bruker S1 Titan can meet your scrap copper analysis needs!

Further analysis shows that the entire economy of the copper alloy industry hinges on the economic recycling of surplus scrap copper. A wide range of copper-based materials, made for an insurmountable, variety of applications, has kept the copper market more than afloat. Using the cheapest and most suitable feedstock for making components gives the most economical cost price for produced materials. For example, traditional supplies of pure copper also exist outside of the construction market, and the copper business continues to boom for the most critical of electrical applications, like the production of superfine and fine enameled wires.

It is essential that scrap copper purity is reproducibly maintained to ensure high conductivity, freedom from breaks during rod production, wire drawing, and consistent annealability. Because applied enamel layers have to withstand voltage despite their thinness, they cannot have surface flaws. As a result, the base copper wire must have supreme surface quality. Uncontaminated, recycled scrap copper that has been electrolytically refined to Grade A quality is the choice material for most electrical applications due to its affordability, effectiveness, and supply availability. Scrap copper analysis ensures that Grade A quality has been produced and will endure the rigors of the application for which it is installed.

Scrap copper has numerous, non-electrical purposes and is used to make large quantities of heat exchangers, roofing sheet, and plumbing tubes. In such applications, quality requirements are not so onerous since high electrical conductivity is not mandatory. Secondary copper is often used for the manufacture of these materials, although still within stipulated quality limits for impurities. Having the ability to conduct scrap copper analysis on the spot with the Bruker S1 TITAN ensures you will not use the highest grade copper on applications that can function as optimally with a lesser grade.

After having been soldered or tinned, scrap copper is associated with other materials, thus making it frequently more economical to take advantage of the contamination than attempt to remove the copper via refining. Most specifications for bronzes and gun metals require the presence of both lead and tin, which makes some impurities in scrap copper ideal feedstock. Here, scrap copper is re-melted and cast to ingot for elemental and chemical analysis before used in a foundry.

Prior to the widespread availability of handheld, analytical instruments, scrap copper analysis was performed by dissolving a sample and performing a specific chemical reaction test with a standard reagent for every element of interest. Such “wet chemistry” techniques involve labor-intensive efforts and time consuming processes that are typically less accurate than current instrumental methods, like X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF).

XRF, a technique commonly used for scrap copper analysis, is also utilized for direct analysis of other solid metal samples, petroleum products, thin metal films, coal, cement, and countless other materials. This fast technique is nondestructive to the sample, and copper analyzers are frequently used for scrap copper analysis performed for industrial quality control and directly in the field.

Here, an X-ray tube irradiates the copper sample with a primary beam of x-rays. In a process referred to as the photoelectric effect, some impinging primary X-rays are absorbed by the sample elements. During the photoelectric effect, an electron in the atom’s innermost electron shell absorbs all the energy of the primary X-ray. This results in excitation and ejection of the absorbing electron. Electrons from higher energy states fill the resulting vacancies, and X-rays are emitted to balance the energy difference between the states of the electrons. The X-ray energy is characteristic of the element from which it was emitted.

The X-ray fluorescence beams are made accurately parallel and directed to an X-ray instrument. The detector records the energy of each X-ray and the number of X-rays at each energy. The X-ray counts – or intensities – as each specific energies are finally compared to values for known standards and elements, completing the quantitative analysis of the specimen.

Using this technique for scrap copper analysis enables recycling plants to differentiate between different grades and purities of copper. For instance, scrap that is pure copper and free from undesirable contaminates can be sold for a higher price and result in higher-quality and high-grade specific products. Similarly, when scrap copper consists of only one alloy composition, it is easier for manufacturers to re-melt for a good quality product.

Regardless of whether scrap copper suppliers require pure metal or a mixed supply with no harmful impurities, scrap copper analysis with the Bruker S1 TITAN encompasses an accurate, fast, and simple testing technique to determine the elemental composition, and thus the grade, of the copper needed. XRF instruments – lightweight and handheld in design – are utilized at every stage of the scrap copper production process to ensure high-quality end products. Contact us to learn more about scrap copper analysis with the Bruker S1 TITAN!

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