FSU Panama City engineering students create metal separator

July 11, 2014 Posted by admin

PANAMA CITY — Engineering students have created a machine that separates metals for recycling purposes.

The Overband Magnetic Separator (OMS) uses an electromagnet to draw ferrous metal into a container, separating it from other nonferrous materials.

OMS, a capstone project for electrical engineering students at Florida State University Panama City, was created based on a request by a Marianna recycling facility at UNICOR, a federal program that provides job-training and work opportunities to prison inmates.

Ferrous materials contain iron and therefore include magnetic metals, such as iron and steel. Nonferrous metals include precious metals such as gold and silver, as well as copper and other non-iron metals.

While the former accounts for the largest amount of scrap metals recycled, the latter is more valuable.

UNICOR staff typically hand-separates thousands of pounds of metals monthly using handheld magnets, according to a UNICOR representative.

“They were pouring electronic scrap onto a table and waiving a magnet across the top, whereas, we’re dumping it into a system and it’s just flowing through very quickly,” said FSU Panama City project manager Jeremy Johnson.

OMS features a 75-pound electromagnet that’s suspended 4½ inches above material that has been dumped onto a bottom conveyor belt. As the belt moves, the magnet picks up the metals, which are dropped into a bin; meanwhile, other nonferrous materials move across the belt and deposited in another bin.

OMS can run up to four hours and separate about 60 pounds of metal in two and a half minutes, according to the student engineering group. The machine cost about $1,300 to build and sorts materials at about 99-percent accuracy.

“It allows them to increase the volume of material they’re able to recycle,” Johnson said.

Demonstrating how OMS works, Johnson dumped pulverized electronic equipment into a funnel positioned over the OMS conveyor belt. The sharp clanking sound screeching from the machine signaled the metals were getting separated from plastic pieces.

The result was a bucket of ferrous metal pieces and a smaller container of the plastic pieces.

The system met requirements set out by UNICOR, and the student engineering group believes future development of the system should include a stronger magnet, a smart panel that allows users to monitor temperature and weight and increase the OMS’s safety standards.

Magnetic separators range in price, but it was unclear Wednesday if UNICOR purchased the system or funded the building of the OMS.

According to Geoffrey Brooks, electrical and computer engineering professor, the project was the first student capstone project to use a conveyor belt.

UNICOR installed the system Wednesday afternoon. 

Article source: http://www.newsherald.com/news/government/fsu-panama-city-engineering-students-create-metal-separator-1.344004/

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