Precious Metals Scrap, Recycling and Refining
Precious metals are essential to our modern life due to their unique properties such as high conductivity, high melting point, physical and chemical resistance, ability to catalyze (accelerate or make possible) chemical reactions and their optical qualities. Precious metals are used in a wide range of application in low concentrations and often in substance mix such as alloys or compounds like oxides.
Scrap containing precious metals can be found all around us in electronics, dental, laboratories, cars, etc.
At A.G. Metals, we use our years of experience, international network and ongoing business with leading recyclers in order to maximize the value of your scrap.
Please contact us with any questions.
Electronics – Waste from Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) – Au, Ag, Pd
As the world becomes more digital and “smart”, we produce more and more WEEE, that need to be recycled. Precious metals can be found in computers, laptops, smart phones, DVDs, audio players, alarm systems, sensors and many more…
A high content of precious metals can usually be found in memory cards, CPUs, connectors, IT telecom boards, mobile phones, circuit boards, IT components and more.
Car catalytic convertors – Pt, Rh, Pd
Most gasoline-powered vehicles built since 1975 are equipped with catalytic converters. These are exhaust emission controller devices that convert toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas (from the internal combustion engine) into a less-toxic pollutant. Most catalytic converters contain a mix of precious metals (Pt, Pd, Rh) ranging between 2-5 grams per catalytic converter.
Note: Each catalytic converter has a unique combination of precious metals. Its serial number can be used to calculate real market value of the catalytic converter (using apps such as: Eco Trade, BAC Metals, Converter Database, Auto Catalyst market, and Nobel 6 to name a few).
Dental scrap – Au, Pd, Ag, Pt
Crowns, bridges, and dental lab waste contain precious metals. Most of the dental restorations, up until several years ago, were based on precious metals. These dental alloys have different precious metals content, from high gold/platinum alloy 98% to low palladium/silver (Pallacast) alloy.
For more information we suggest reading the attached article
Platinum crucible – Pt, Au
Mainly used in analytical laboratories, crucibles are a cup-shaped piece of laboratory equipment used to contain chemical compounds when heating them to very high temperatures. Most crucibles are 99.9% Pt but some are “non wetting” crucible with content of 95% Pt and 5% Au.
Sputtering targets – Pt, Au, Ag
Sputtering is a physical process, in which atoms in a solid state (target) are released, and pass into a gas phase, by bombardment with energetic ions in order to produce a thin film on the substrate. The sputtering targets are composed of precious metals. The sputtering process is very common in the semiconductor industry and for optical applications.
With prolonged use, the target surface becomes thinner and cannot be used, at which time it is removed for recycling. Machine parts may also become coated with precious metals, and can be recycled as well.
PtIr & PtRh wires
PtIr & PtRh wires are commonly used as thermocouples and resistance thermometers for measuring high temperature up to1800°C. These are used in: furnaces, gas turbines, industrial sensors (for airplanes gauges controllers), etc.
Precious metals industrial catalysts such as palladium on carbon are used both in chemical and pharmaceutical industries. These materials may be considered as “hazardous materials”, and usually, scrap will be mixed with water, due to the fact that the carbon powder is very flammable.
PGM Mixed Metal oxide – RuO2, IrO2, PtO2
Mixed Metal oxide (MMO) electrodes, also called Dimensionally Stable Anodes (DSA), are devices with high conductivity and corrosion resistance for use as anodes in electrolysis. They are made by coating a substrate, such as pure titanium plate or expanded mesh, with several kinds of metal oxides. One oxide is usually RuO2 IrO2 or PtO2 which conducts electricity and catalyzes the desired reaction such as in the production of chlorine gas.
PGM coating can be found from green hydrogen production and industrial water treatment.
Aerospace scrap – Au, Ag, Pt, Pd
Precious metals can be reclaimed from “end-of-life aircraft components” such as:
- Electronic PCBs, connectors, relays & wires
- Aircraft engines – high pressure turbine blades, high pressure nozzles, guide vanes. Gold or palladium brazing alloy, fuel nozzles fuel lines, heat exchangers, platinum coated blades.
Jewelry – Au, Pd
Jewelry scrap can be divided into several categories:
- Old / broken jewelry – mostly 10-18 Karat gold (it is easy to calculate it’s up to date value using our “Gold Karat Calculator”).
- “Gold-filled” and gold-plated parts – needs to be cast and assayed in order to know the actual gold content.
- “White Gold” – part of which may be gold with palladium/nickel or it may be a palladium alloy (usually Pd 95% marked “950”).
- Scrap – from jewelry manufacturing.
Note: Jewelry may contain stones & diamonds, so it is important to check their value prior to selling or casting.
Silverware – Ag
Manufacturing of silverware involves many types of processes such as: casting, rolling, pressing, spinning, polishing, brazing, plating and more process steps that generate scrap. Most of the scrap with high silver content can be recycled, whereas low content must be refined.
X-Ray Films – Ag
Historically there was a wide use of X-Ray film for the following applications; medical X-Ray, MRI, CT scans, mammography film, lithographic film, NDT testing, fixer solution, and more…
As digital devices and technologies advance, most of the new devices do not use the films and there is less and less film scrap on the market.
The film surface is coated with silver halide grains, which, when exposed to light, turns the silver crystals into metal and creates the image in the developing stage. Typically, it is common to have 1-3% of Silver.
Specials – Os, Ir, Pt
The tips of high-quality fountain pens may be made of Osmium Iridium alloy.
Spark plugs may contain platinum or iridium due to their high melting point.