Phase I: Identify requirements

A project log for Aluminum Recycling Micro Factory

What if you could recycle your aluminum cans at home and could process a large volume of cans semi-autonomously?

hominidaehominidae 05/26/2020 at 16:340 Comments

We need to shred pop cans.

The reason we need to shred soda cans first is because melting tiny shredded bits of aluminum is quite a bit easier than it is to melt the soda cans as they are. There is also the BPA epoxy spray on liner inside the can and the paint on the exterior of the can that we need to get rid of first as well.

I've decided that a form factor that is approximately the size of a 3D printer is necessary because getting the materials for doing this means the parts can be sent via regular mail.

We will also be using 2020 aluminum extrusion for the "Aluminum Recycling Micro Factory" because it's commonly available for prototyping.

However, rather than rushing forward and ordering parts it makes sense to first identify what we need to cram into a small volume of space first.

  1. A hopper is needed to dump a single large plastic bag full of soda and beer cans
  2. The hopper needs to be directly above a shredder
  3. A conveyor belt or some form of conveyance needs to direct a stream of shredded aluminum into a stage that involves cooking the BPA liner and the paint off of the aluminum cans
  4. Both of the above stages will need to be controlled by an Arduino microcontroller or Raspberry pi
  5. Once enough shredded and pre-processed material is collected, it needs to be dumped into a graphite crucible
  6. The graphite crucible then needs to be heated to approximately 800 degree's celsius using resistive heating using kiln wire and a PID controller with a high temperature probe
  7. Once the aluminum is melted, it needs to be tipped over and dumped into a form of some kind, the most likely choice will be a conventional baking tray to create an ingot