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Feeding the new furnace of Duesmann & Hensel Recycling

CAT monolith
Monolith from CATs ready to be processed at Duesmann & Hensel Recycling.
International precious metals recycler, Duesmann & Hensel Recycling recently announced the commissioning of a new furnace near Frankfurt, Germany, designed to handle up to 2,000 tonnes each year of material containing precious metals - to you and me, that means CATS. We took a look at the UK side of their operation and what they can offer the auto recycler.

Duesmann & Hensel Recycling in the UK is a collaboration between the parent company and long standing regional supplier of de-canned CATs in the South East, Refine Metals Ltd. Refine Metals have been buying CATs from our industry for a long time now (and also core components - but that’s a different story). Once collected, they then de-can and separate the monolith (the bit inside the CAT which contains the precious metals) and sell this material on to Duesmann & Hensel Recycling. Duesmann & Hensel Recycling’s operation in the UK grew from this long standing relationship and started processing in March 2012.

Duesmann & Hensel Recycling repeat the buying process all over the country with other CAT de-canners, making up the volumes to then onward ship to furnaces (such as the plant mentioned above) all over the world. They form the next layer of the reprocessing chain, generally dealing with the company you sell your CATs to. These are the companies similar to Refine Metals who collect and de-can up and down the country. Duesmann & Hensel Recycling will process CATs complete (but there is a 500 units minimum) as well as de-canned monolith (500kg minimum). They operate a plant in the South East that processes and analyses that monolith, ready for smelting.

What does this entail? They take the monolith from a crumbly, rough material shown above to a dry, mixed powder. To achieve this, the material goes through several processes including drying (usually 1-2% moisture but can be as high as 5%), milling to achieve the necessary particle size, mixing to ensure a homogenous mixture and then analysing the batch. At this point a value can be given as the levels of platinum, palladium and rhodium are known.

Duesmann & Hensel Recycling don’t actually buy the material. All work is carried out on a toll basis. The material, once valued can be sold through their system when it suits you. The majority of clients prefer to take a pre-payment after initial X-ray fluorescence analysis. As it remains your material you also have ability to trade with the recovered precious metals deciding when to fix your sell date, etc.

A number of dismantlers have installed de-canning equipment over the past few years and could well benefit from selling direct. Provided your lots are over 500kg of monolith then Duesmann & Hensel Recycling would be keen to talk to you. For those considering de-canning, they will toll a volume of CATs for you (500 units minimum) so that you can then decide whether the added return from supplying monolith rather than selling CATs adds up for your business model - try before you buy always sounds like a good idea!

They did offer a few words of warning for those thinking of de-canning. Firstly, you need a large enough quantity to justify the investment in plant and staff to operate it, and secondly, you need to know your market. If you’re just removing CATs from the vehicles entering your yard then you need to understand the wide variations in content and therefore value. Aftermarket CATs for example generally contain much lower levels of precious metals than OEM CATs so if you mainly handle ELVs with a high proportion of aftermarket CATs, then their value is not all that great. Diesel Particulate Filters may contain no precious metals or high levels of precious metals but also contain silicon carbide. A different smelting process is used where high levels of silicon carbide are present. From a de-canners point of view, all these things can affect the return so make sure you know your market.

Buying CATs in to de-can brings a host of other issues. Apart from the extensive knowledge required to recognise the value of each individual CAT, the big problem is being sure of what you’re buying. We have heard examples of criminals removing the bulk of monolith before selling them on to the inexperienced CAT buyer. Expanded foam doesn’t have the same value!

All CATs are fitted with something called a Lambda Sensor. This item is easily overlooked but again contains precious metals and is purchased by Duesmann & Hensel Recycling. If you are installing your own de-canning plant, then make sure you save these and don’t simply send them off with the empty cans. Another area that may be of interest for auto recyclers is ECUs. The number of circuit boards (all of which contain precious metals) keeps increasing and Duesmann & Hensel Recycling are developing processes to open up this revenue stream for the industry.

The only thing now to decide is how to make the most from your CATs! If you want to talk to Duesmann & Hensel Recycling you can call them on 01403 792 500 or email them. Their website is www.duerec.com

November 2014

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