Production Transformer Recycling Line to get Clean Copper Wire

Production Transformer Recycling Line to get Clean Copper Wire

Here’s some of the stuff we’re going to
be running today. These are transformers, we have a bunch of different sizes here. And
what we’re going to be doing is we’re going to put them through the hammer mill
with a ½ inch screen. All these little steel plates are going to break apart, and the copper
windings are going to be blown apart as well, so we separate all the metal. The paper and
the varnish and plastic is going to separate as well. Once it comes out of the hammer mill,
it’ll run up a conveyor, under a mag belt, pull the steel plates out, and then it’ll
fall down through a zig-zag, and it’s going to suck all the paper, plastic, and fluff
out, and we’ll have clean copper at the bottom. These weigh anywhere from a couple
pounds, this could be out of a microwave or something, up to, this one weighs 14 pounds,
it comes out of the big light ballasts you see hanging in big warehouses, & shops, & stuff.
So there’s a whole range of sizes and weights here and we’ll see what happens when we
run it through the hammer mill. [Grinding noises] We’re done with our test run, so we’ll come over and take a look at the steel first.
This is what the mag belt pulled out. You can see it’s really, really clean. I don’t
see any copper wire in any of this. So we got really good separation. We’ll go over here and take a look at the
copper portion now, and we did it in two steps. We did the small transformers first, and here’s
a look at one of the small transformers for scale. And what we found is that the small
transformers have really fine wire in it. The zig-zag did a pretty good job of getting
the paper out of the wire. We were having a problem with some of the insulated wire,
just like this stuff hanging off, we didn’t clip any of it off. The hammer mill doesn’t
strip the insulation, so this is heavy enough to fall through with the copper wire. Here’s
a close up look of the small transformers. And we ran a few bigger ones in there too,
so you can see some bigger copper. It’s pretty clean, most of the coloration you see
in there is the insulated wire that has some copper in it. But when we ran this, we wanted
to make sure we didn’t suck up any of the fine copper wire with the fluff and the varnish. So here’s the 3 horsepower dust collector.
We’ll look in the bottom bag here, this is where all the fluff, varnish, and plastic
went, and you can see it’s really pretty clean. Every once in a while there’s a little
piece of copper wire in there, it probably got caught up on a piece of fluff. There’s
some in there I think you can see. But the overall weight of the bag is hardly anything,
so I don’t think we lost any copper at all, maybe a couple percent at most. But there’s
no reason you couldn’t reprocess this, either through a granulator, and then over an air
table, or even a wet table, and get the remaining copper out if you had enough of it. So here’s what we found with the bigger
transformers. I busted this one up a little bit, so you can see. The wire in this is pretty
good size wire, pretty heavy gauge, and this is what it looks like when it comes out of
the hammer mill all cleaned. And I think this is actually probably number one, because of
its size, and we had the same problem, we didn’t clip the wires off the transformers,
so the insulated copper still comes through, and every once in a while you’ll get a heavier
piece of plastic. The thing I want to try next time, is the wire so heavy gauge that
I could really increase the sucker, the air velocity in the zig-zag, and I could probably,
if I couldn’t suck these out, I’d be surprised it separated them, but we could get a bit
more of this fluff out, some of this heavier plastic on the bigger transformers would suck
out without any copper loss. So we’re still in the R&D phase, the testing
phase, but I think these are really good results, and I’ll be interested to hear what you
think of this. So that’ll wrap up this video. And like
I said earlier, we’re still in the R&D phase of this thing, trying to figure out exactly
the best way to proceed, and how to get a clean copper product out the bottom, so you
guys can sell it and make more money. There’s a limit to what this size hammer mill can
take, this is 24” by 16” hammer mill, and these 14 or 15 pound transformers may
just be a little bit too big for running production. They do okay, but if you’re going to be
running day-in, day-out, you may want to reduce that to maybe an 8 or 10 pound maximum transformer.
We do have a larger hammer mill in the works, so I’ll be really interested to hear from
you guys. How big of transformers do you need to process, and then we can build the equipment
accordingly. Is 15 pound big enough? Do you need to do 25-pound transformers? I’m sure
everyone will be a little bit different. Appreciate your feedback, appreciate you guys
watching the videos. We have fun making the equipment, and look forward to hearing from
you guys & seeing you on the next video. Thanks for watching.


  1. Amazingly fast and efficient!  What the largest size transformer this can handle?  Keep up the great innovations!

  2. if the wire has any varnish on it Montmartre the size its number 2 copper, just so you know it goes bare bright ( bigger than 18awg wire and only wire no tubing ) number 1 ( clean copper pipe no matter size must be clean, dirty romex wire non-shiny ) number 2 ( any wire with varnish, any wire smaller than 18awg, copper pipe with paint tarnish mud and oil, bus bar roofing copper with no tar ) There are some more but those are the most often that you run across. yes some scrap yards it varies from place to olace

  3. Would a round stirrer with a heavy gauge mesh or grill on the bottom of the drum, and a sealed vacuum top remove all the fluff?

  4. Your biggest issue will probably be the transformers that use aluminium. So you may have to make a density separation system for it.

  5. Would love to see you run some heavier alum breakage. Such as crushed lawn mower engines/auto alum breakage pistons with rods. We prob have 80,000 lbs + on hand.

  6. A lot of those large transformers have one of the coils made with aluminum wire. Its not apparent because of the poly coating on the magnet wire. You wouldn't want to get that aluminum mixed with the copper. Best thing to do is to use a hatchet to wack the coils to make a deep enough cut to see the color of the wire. If its aluminum, you can wack the transformer with the hatchet and a sledge hammer right on the welds and pry the top steal lament slab off and remove the coils. Your recycler or scrap yard will be pretty pissed if he found copper colored aluminum wire mixed in with the copper.

  7. Still trying to figure out HOW aluminum and copper separated from each other when mixed? Ferrous is easy due to use of magnetic belt, but HOW is copper separated from aluminum? I may have heard oils or eddy currents ?

  8. Hey man, im very interested in your work. Currently I'm an engineering student in the netherlands working on a project to recycle lithium ion batteries. With this development comes a lot of research. I keep finding your videos and they seem really interesting. If you are looking for a helping hand.. in September i'm gonna do my last comakership for my study. Im interested in expanding my knowledge about separation techniques. Please let me know if you are interested.

  9. clean copper…HAHAHA! It's still laminated, you won't even get the price of Cu BB. You're better off without the machine and just cut off the two welding lines. To operate that machine, I wonder how many pound or years to make it break even.

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