SATURN - metal recovery


Key data

Level: EU

Role: Coordinator

Partners: 5

Duration: 08.2009 - 05.2012


Up until the start of this project, non-ferrous metal pre-concentrates originating from mechanical-biological waste treatment have always been manually sorted and classified into different, narrowly defined secondary products for the metal industry and trade. However, this process pushes the envelope of profitability, due to high non-wage labor costs compared to throughput and output.

  Logo of the Saturn project

In a demonstration plant in Salzgitter, manual sorting was mostly replaced by two sensor-based sorters to convert waste into valuables more efficiently and to increase the productivity of the plant:

  • X-ray sorter with transmission measurement (XRT) for metal sorting to the density
  • Polyfinder: combination of near-infrared and electromagnetic sensor for simultaneous measurement of optical surface properties and inductance for identifying metal composites

To evaluate the sorting results the process was balanced several times with high throughputs. In addition, non-ferrous metal concentrates from various mechanical-biological waste treatment plants have been characterized , which has mediated a very good knowledge about composition and other properties. Sensor -based sorting represents good technically viable pre-processing for recycling of secondary raw materials.

The economy and the ecological advantages of the method were considered. Findings have shown that the process works under economic conditions in high-wage countries. It increases resource efficiency in waste management. The environmental impacts of secondary resources and thus their environmental footprint can be reduced in an eco-innovative process.

Further information is available at the SATURN-project website.