Project Proposal

Leonard Crow discussed in a 1951 paper the techniques that could be used to attract aluminum and copper through the use of modified electromagnets. This technology was underdeveloped as a method for metal sorting due to its high energy consumption, however, with improvements in magnetic materials technology and the use of high frequency currents using DC power sources, this technology has the ability to become more energy efficient and be used in the sorting of scrap metal, particularly those with higher economic value.

We propose four major milestones within the project:

1. The first milestone will be the development of the a standard electromagnetic using 60 Hz AC that has the ability to attract aluminum and copper.

2. The second milestone will involve modifying the power source to the magnetic to operate with a DC source. Using an inverter and DSP for controlling the frequency, the frequency of the electromagnet will be modified so that an optimal frequency for attracting copper and aluminum will be found. Using different frequencies, the magnet will be able to pick up different non-ferrous materials

3. The third major milestone will be the attachment of current sensors so that the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous materials being attracted to the the electromagnet will can be determined.

4. The fourth major milestone will be the development of code that will enable to current measurements to be used to track the mass of the material being picked up by the electromagnetic. A PCB board integrating the controls for the inverter and the sensors will be built. This technology will allow scrap metal and other metal waste institution the ability to better seek out the desired metal.

More valuable metals such as copper and titanium could be found from larger scrap piles of mixed metal using the proper settings on the frequency of the magnet. This has the potential to reduce sorting costs and enable more streamlined sorting that would improve the efficiency of such companies. The project will require students to have a knowledge of electromagnetics, magnetic material, DSP programming, power electronics, sensor implementation, and PCB design. T

The project will be sponsored by Dr. Keith Corzine of the UCSC Electrical Engineering Department and IDEA Hub of UCSC CIED.


L.R. Crow, Design, Construction and Operating Principles of Electromagnets for Attracting Copper, Aluminum, and Other Non-Ferrous Materials, 1951.