The inside of a steel recycling factory is hell on Earth

Have you ever seen a piece of scrap metal get melted down inside a furnace? The process itself is fascinating, but as Ohio-based photographer Ricky Rhodes discovered, it somewhat resembles hell on earth.

The photographer was recently invited to the TinkemSteel recycling factory to witness junked cars, old appliances, and other scrap turn into new steel. The photographic evidence shows a process built on science and safety, with the factory bathed in a continuous red glow and molten steel bubbles in giant cauldrons. Rhodes captured the steel processors donned in protective gear in action, claiming “it was pretty mind-blowing, as it gets really bright and hot. You have to move away because you feel like you’re melting”.  Check out the photos.

Steel recycling – the mechanics of making steel new again

Everything from our cars to steel-coated food and drink cans, old pots and pans, and even wire mesh is sent to a recycling factory.  Steel is an incredibly versatile material that can be used time and time again, without altering its properties.

To get it ready for recycling, metals need to be sorted into a “recyclable” and “non-recyclable” pile. It’s important to note that the quality of recycled material – whether stainless steel or aluminium steel –  is a major factor in whether it can be turned into another high quality product. Therefore, a strict quality check is in place.

The next step is to compact and squeeze the approved metals into smaller shapes. This helps to reduce the amount of space a metal takes up on a conveyor belt. The metal is then shredded into smaller pieces to minimise energy usage. Generally, steel is transformed into blocks, while aluminium is converted into sheets.

The final steps are where the magic happens, with the scrap metal melted down inside a furnace. Due to the different properties of each metal, each material is sent to a specially designed furnace heated to the appropriate degrees capable of melting the metal. Once the metal has been purified, it’s then sent to be cooled and solidified.

Every day steel recycling

At ShapeCUT, we believe in the importance of reusing and recycling steel. In fact, it’s one of the most important materials to reutilise and doing so offers environmental advantages in reducing the usage and pollution of water and land. Yet many people are unsure as to how to properly recycle metal. Here’s how to do it at home:

  1. Understand what can and cannot be recycled. Tin/aluminium cans, disposable bake ware, aluminium foil, foil yoghurt tops, clean paint cans and empty aerosol cans can all be put in your general recycling skip bin. For all other large metal items, take them to your local scrap yard or wait for your local kerbside pickup.
  2. Rinse your recyclables to make the recycling process easier and ensure there’s no liquid inside aerosol or paint cans, as this can be hazardous.

As one of Australia’s leading steel cutting and processing providers, we know a thing or two about recycling steel and transforming it into something new, with our quality profile cutting service. ShapeCUT also stock all steel grades, sizes and thicknesses for your next project. In fact, we have the largest range of stocked steel plates in the market. Get in contact with ShapeCUT today to discuss your next steel profile cutting project.

Image Credit: A worker stands beside the furnace door. Ricky Rhodes