In May and June 2011, PEAT conducted an operational campaign on used copper wire (MSW) at its PTDR-100 plasma-arc gasification system located in California. The feedstock included power cables, power supplies, data cables and video cables from computer components. This specific type of high gauge wire is not recycled or processed through a typical mechanical chopping system (too difficult to extract the copper), which means it is typically exported. The objective of this campaign was to demonstrate the feasibility of using the PTDR-100 plasma-arc gasification system for processing used copper wire (class #1 and #2) to gauge its ability to improve yield and/or quality of the reclaimed copper. Further, this testing is also exploring the quantity and quality of syngas generated from the organic portions of the wire using plasma-arc gasification.
During 15 days of operation, almost 820 kilograms (over 1,800 pounds) were processed over a 36 hour span, resulting in an average feed rate of 22.3 kilograms per hour (approximately 50 pounds). 230.40 kilograms of alloy was tapped from the PTDR plasma-arc gasification reactor generating a yield of 28%.
A sample of the alloy tapped from a run on May 19th was sent to an independent lab for compositional analysis (EPA 6010B). The results indicated that the alloy was over 99% copper.
Additional data is currently being compiled.