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. So let’s begin with what granulation is.
It’s the process of taking your ordinary copper wire, like Romex®, Cat 5, or Cat 6 and pounding it so incredibly hard that it breaks into small pieces, using, of course, what is called 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 them into pieces as small as three millimeters long.
Sounds Easy Enough…
BUT, let’s take a look at the argument against granulating copper (or any metal for that matter).
- Separating the good stuff from the bad: Yes, you’ve now grounded copper down and made 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 to be done before you can sell anything. Separation is typically performed using an electrostatic separator, a machine that can separate particles by mass in a low-energy charged beam.
- It Ain’t Cheap: So you want to granulate copper to hoard and eventually sell. Well, great, because now you need to make two pretty significant investments. Granulators and separators are machines that 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).
- 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 pretty 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, most won’t take the chance and will altogether decline to buy it.
- Be prepared to wait for that ROI… So you leaped and bought that expensive granulator. Good for you, but don’t expect to see a return on investment any time soon unless you’re selling A LOT of copper.
Why make something harder than it is? Find some copper scrap, sort, separate, strip it, bring it on down to the yard, and make that cash. Leave the granulating to someone else. Happy Scrapping!