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Processing scrap engines in the 21st century

Scrap engines
Scrap engine and irony aluminium smelting requires purpose designed plant to do the job effectively.
As with other sectors of the industry, those processing engines and irony aluminium have had to keep up to date with the environmental and economic conditions.

Operating from a 5 acre site in the west midlands, Richards and Jerrom have seen many changes over their 40+ years of history. As Pete Richards explained, “The motive in the past was purely commercial. We are still in business today to make a profit, but we are much more aware of our environment now and the need to look after it.”

The company currently processes 500 tonnes of engines a week in their purpose built sloping hearth furnace. To keep the beast fed, they buy from all over the UK from both small and large yards. Commercial Director, Jo Richards said, “We love each an every one of our very different suppliers and we understand how tough our trade is. No matter how large or small the business, we all have our own challenges. That’s why we always make sure we treat everybody fairly.”
ingots at Richards & Jerrom
Cast ingots straight out of the furnace - Richards and Jerrom supply spec ingots, all destined for the automotive sector. The cast iron and steel is sized and sorted to suit customer requirements.

Jo has been with Richards and Jerrom for 15 years and is the daughter of co-founder, Mick Richards. She is part of the next generation who, along with fellow director, Paul Richards (Pete’s son) are slowly taking over the helm. Pete said, It’s great to have Jo and Paul now making the decisions. I’m yesterday’s man now. They can take advantage of my knowledge but they’re the ones who are driving the business forward to make sure we have a bright future.”
So what’s involved in processing scrap engines in the 21st century?
There are a couple of areas that have influenced the way Richards and Jerrom operate. Firstly, The feed stock has changed over the past decade or two with much more content being non metallic. Plastics especially now make up a sizeable part of the mix.

This has influenced the way they process significantly. Engines are no longer broken but melted whole with the calorific value within the flammable components being utilised to generate the heat to melt the aluminium. In fact the plastics, rubber and oils play such a major part that once the furnace is charged, no more fuel is required; only oxygen to help the burn. Apparently, the residual oil remaining within the engines doesn’t burn readily. Pete explained, “Oil is used greatly for plastics within the clothing and home markets where they don’t want it to be flammable. The process of reducing that flammability starts right back with the way the refine the oil itself.”

The other major influence has been environmental issues. Engines are always going to be a dirty business. The dismantler can drain as much as he can but there will always be those nooks and crannies within an engine where oil is trapped. Let’s face it, without actually fully dismantling an engine, this will always be the case. This issue has influenced the move to melt engines whole as any oil trapped within the unit can be burnt within the furnace. On the other hand, any that comes out of the unit cannot be burnt in the furnace but must be disposed of as hazardous waste. The flip side to this is that the emissions from the stack must be clean enough not to cause an air pollution risk. As you can imagine, scrubbing of these gases is something that must be monitored carefully.

What comes out of the furnace is spec ingots (mainly LM2, LM13, LM24, LM27 and 226) and iron/steel. The ingots all find their way back into the automotive sector. The cast iron and steel is crushed to reduce size and graded to the customers’ requirements. For example, their top grade of cylinder cast is hand sorted to ensure the removal of cranks and cams from the mix. The ferrous products are sold in 2,000 tonne lots.

Names like Richards and Jerrom have been around for a long time and many of us think of them as ‘part of the family’. Like all forward thinking metals recyclers, they have to keep on top of their game to make sure they are not only complying with their legal and environmental requirements but they also have to be competitive in the market place. Both Jo and Paul who are driving the business forward recognise that they must run a tight ship to offer a fair price whilst at the same time affording the cost of doing the job in a safe and environmentally efficient way - when you see that stack of ingots, it’s hard to believe they were old engines yesterday!

You can contact Jo at Richards and Jerrom on 0121 557 1195 or visit their website.

July 2015

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