Should I Granulate My Scrap Copper?

The question of whether or not to granulate copper has come across our metaphorical desk several times, so we figured it’s time to address it. Let’s begin by explaining granulation.

What Is Granulated Copper?

It’s the process of taking ordinary copper wire, like Romex®, Cat 5, or Cat 6, and pounding it so incredibly hard that it breaks into small pieces using a granulator. You feed the wire into the machine, and it gets to work. It starts by shredding the wire into grains only a centimeter long. It is then rerun through, cutting the grains into pieces as small as three millimeters long.

Problems With Granulating Copper

But first, let’s examine the argument against granulating copper (or any metal, for that matter). 

  1. Separating the good from the bad: You’ve now grounded copper down, making it much easier to store and hold. But you can’t sell it as is because the plastic insulation is still mixed in. Now, you have a whole other process before you can sell anything. Separation is typically performed using an electrostatic separator, which can separate particles by mass in a low-energy charged beam. How many scrappers do you know that have a spare one of these on hand?
  2. It Ain’t Cheap: So you want to granulate copper to hoard and eventually sell. Well, great, because now you must make two significant investments. Granulators and separators can cost thousands of dollars, so be prepared to spend some big bucks. Take this CopperMine Industrial Granulator, for example… it’s $20,000. I think it’s safe to say your everyday scrapper isn’t going out to buy a $20k machine (and if you are, tell them iScrap sent you).
  3. Does your yard even take granulation? Some yards won’t even take a granulated wire because who knows if it’s 100% copper. It would be difficult for your yard to decipher whether it’s Bare Bright, #1 Copper, #2 Copper, or just some sort of fool’s copper. The point is that most won’t take the chance and will altogether decline to buy it. If you have one of the few yards that will take grades of copper chop, expect to receive a lower grade than a standard Bare Bright.
  4. Be prepared to wait for that ROI… So you leaped and bought that expensive granulator. Good for you, but don’t expect a return on investment soon unless you sell A LOT of copper.

In conclusion…

Why make something more challenging than it is? Find some copper scrap, sort, separate, strip, bring it down to the yard, and make that cash. Leave the granulating to someone else. Happy Scrapping!