Recycling services company Kuusakoski has produced a method for recycling magnetic imaging devices which can then be used to separate electrolytic copper and niobium-titanium conductors.
According to the company, this innovation is needed due to the increasing use of magnetic imaging technology in health care, and hospitals replacing their old devices with newer and more powerful imaging devices.
These imaging devices contain a superconducting coil that is cooled with helium, with the coil sealed inside multi-layered metal chambers and cast in resin.
The company said that when these old imaging devices from hospitals are recycled, the reusable parts are separated, the coil inside the resin block is dismantled by flame cutting causing smoke from the dirty process, and the recovered copper is also impure.
Kuusakoski’s new method will mean that only the outermost case structures of imaging devices need to be dismantled with flame cutting. The coil and resin inside the machine are processed in a pyrolysis furnace.
The coil’s copper wire is separated when the treatment is occurring and contains niobium titanium conductors which are also recovered.
Kuusakoski R&D precious metal department head Arsi Saukkola said: “Niobium-titanium cannot be separated from copper with mechanical methods or by melting. That is why we developed an electrochemical production method. This method produces very pure electrolytic copper and niobium-titanium wire. The test production phase was a success, and now we are ready for actual production according to market demand.”
The company will pick up old equipment from hospitals and recycle the materials.