Houghton Scores with Swarf Pucks


Metalworking fluid supplier Houghton plc in the United Kingdom has found that a briquetting press can recycle metalworking fluids, saving money on fluid and waste disposal costs along with providing environmental benefits.

Houghton recently installed such a press at Continental Teves in Ebbw Vale, Wales, U.K. Continental Teves manufactures vehicle safety and powertrain systems. Houghtons support on site includes swarf management using a briquetting press that dries and compacts swarf generated during machinery operations to produce virtually fluid-free solid pucks of compressed metal. Weve been able to get a premium price for those, compared to loose swarf, Houghton Regional Business Manager Lee Bowditch told Lube Report.

Bowditch said the briquetted swarf provides greater commercial return and greater stability from price fluctuations. Scrap value is higher because deductions for coolant contamination are eliminated, he added. He said aluminum swarf briquetting can pay back the cost of the equipment and installation within about 12 months. We look at the cost of installing the equipment, then what revenue will be generated by the volume of the swarf in briquettes, and we use that increase to pay off the equipment, he said.

The briquetted swarf typically goes to a smelter or foundry where they melt the metal pucks down. What we found is smelters actually prefer briquettes, Bowditch explained. The reason being, a briquette is quite thick and quite dense. He said this means they will sink, so they will more easily get mixed during the smelting process.

Bowditch said another advantage of the briquetting process is the removal of moisture.
Typically swarf contains five to 20 percent moisture content, he said. When you briquette it, typically that moisture goes down below three percent. If youre smelting metal, that helps you take advantage of that, as the last thing you want is water going into any sort of furnace.

He said the briquette swarf in terms of value is situated between loose swarf on the lower end and solid cut off swarf consisting of rejected components and scrap metal on the high end. The difference in terms of revenue you can generate from switching from loose to briquette swarf is quite a lot, he said, saying that in the U.K. the briquette form can fetch up to 200 (U.S. $392) per metric ton, and can increase the value by about 120 (U.S. $235) per ton versus the value of loose swarf.

He said the briquetting process sees use in other industries, including the paper industry. In the U.K. were under a lot of pressure environmentally to look at ways to reduce environmental impact and costs, he said. You can actually get a better return in terms of costs, reduce the volume and improve the resale value for a lot of these materials if you provide them in the right form.

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