BHS-Sonthofen is supplying BASF with a plant for the mechanical reprocessing of lithium-ion batteries into black mass. This marks the third large-scale plant for BHS, with the first one having operated successfully for over a year. As a result, customers can benefit from the combined experience and know-how of this machinery and plant manufacturer from the South German Allgäu region, providing them with increased investment security.
”In the period of just over two years, we have successfully implemented two large-scale plants in Europe in addition to two pilot plants in the field of battery recycling. With the third large-scale project, we are now reaching a high degree of maturity of a still very young, novel recycling process,” comments Daniel Zeiler, Vice President in the Recycling Technology Business Unit at BHS-Sonthofen. “We are particularly proud that we have been able to secure another renowned and innovative customer like BASF.”
At the end of June 2023, BASF, together with partners and customers celebrated the opening of Europe's first co-located center for battery material production and battery recycling. A significant component is the plant supplied by BHS for the mechanical processing of lithium-ion batteries. This plant is seen as an important step towards closing the loop for the European battery value chain and raw material supply, ultimately reducing the CO2 footprint.
Scheduled to commence operations in 2024, the plant will have a processing capacity of 15,000 metric tons of spent lithium-ion batteries and scrap from battery production per year. The BASF facility is currently under construction in Schwarzheide, Brandenburg, where it already produces cathode active materials for lithium-ion batteries. The black mass produced at the plant contains valuable metals such as nickel, cobalt and lithium, which undergo chemical extraction in a subsequent processing step at BASF. These metals are then utilized in the production of new battery materials.
Recycling plant meets the high safety standards of the chemical industry
BHS-Sonthofen and BASF both equally benefit from this extensive cooperation. ”The plant in Schwarzheide is being constructed to the highest environmental, health and safety standards. To meet our customer’s stringent requirements, we have developed tailored solutions for our machines and components in close coordination with BASF,” Daniel Zeiler explains, reflecting on the results of the first year of cooperation.
Knut Zöllner, Senior Vice President at BASF, confirms, “In BHS-Sonthofen, we have chosen a partner who seamlessly combines the worlds of classic recycling technology and chemical process technology particularly well, complementing BASF's own experience.”
Exceptional material disintegration
In 2020, BHS-Sonthofen introduced its innovative and safe process for recycling lithium-ion batteries. The mechanical process consists of the main stages of crushing, drying and screening. Crushing takes place in two stages, enabling exceptional material disintegration and yielding the valuable black mass as the main product. This process achieves high recovery rates, depending on customer requirements, while maintaining the highest quality standards. Moreover, the continuous gas-tight process from shredder to dryer, ensures a safe evaporation of electrolytes, meeting BASF's stringent criteria for plant safety and environmental compatibility.
BHS vacuum dryer extracts electrolytes
The heart of the plant is the vacuum dryer of type HTC, which gently heats the crushed batteries. Here, too, BHS utilizes its in-house technologies and expertise: through its Process Technology business unit, the company is a leading global supplier of process technology components and systems for the chemical, pharmaceutical, and food industries.
During the heating process, the electrolyte remaining after crushing evaporates, while the material is gently homogenized and further broken down autogenously. The electrolyte components can be recovered via the multi-stage condensation unit. As a key element of this innovative recycling process, BHS has already supplied the vacuum dryer to market companions and customers with large-scale battery recycling plants.
Over the past two years, BHS-Sonthofen has further optimized the technologies and process parameters used in the process, focusing on material selection, work safety, and ease of maintenance. “For example, operation of the shredders is now easier and safer. Additionally, enhanced accessibility allows for better cleaning and maintenance of the machines,” says Zeiler. Furthermore, BHS incorporated valuable operating experience gained from pilot and large-scale plants into the Schwarzheide project, ensuring efficient scaling.
“Battery recycling is a crucial prerequisite for fostering the circular economy and meeting EU quota requirements,” Zeiler concludes. "We are currently witnessing substantial investments in battery recycling on a global scale, and recycling technology is continuously improving. The process from BHS-Sonthofen has now more than proven itself in practice."
The Recycling Technology division at BHS-Sonthofen is reporting a personnel change. Daniel Zeiler has taken over as the head of the division. Alfred Weber, who had successfully managed sales for the company’s Recycling Technology division since 2007, retired at the end of last year.
Alfred Weber has witnessed a number of milestones at BHS-Sonthofen. The Recycling division was still in its infancy when Mr. Weber started working in sales at BHS 20 years ago. At that time, he was in the construction machinery and special mixing technology sales area. Starting in 2007, Mr. Weber was put in charge of sales for the Recycling division. “The initial challenge was to build the sales network for recycling machinery and associated solutions from the ground up. Back then, it was about machines and plants with impact crushing, which were already used for the processing of residual materials containing metal. It was only years later that the tearing and cutting technology was added,” reports the skilled chemical worker and process engineer. BHS now offers complete plant solutions, including control and sorting technology, all from a single source. BHS has developed proprietary innovative processes such as the recycling of lithium-ion batteries, keeping in tune with the times. “Mr. Weber has been instrumental in making BHS an established brand in the recycling industry today. We sincerely thank him for his work and commitment over the past 20 years,” says Dennis Kemmann, Managing Director of BHS-Sonthofen, summing up Mr. Weber’s career with the company.
BHS continues to grow with recycling expert Daniel Zeiler
As BHS moves into the future, it will be Daniel Zeiler’s task to further establish the company’s foothold in this market segment. Hailing from the Rhineland, Mr. Zeiler, who is 48 years old, has worked closely in the area of machinery and plant engineering for the recycling industry for over 20 years. He spent more than ten years in a management position with an international equipment supplier for the scrap processing industry and most recently he spent five years as head of sales at a plant manufacturer in the plastics recycling industry. Mr. Zeiler joined BHS-Sonthofen in September 2022. “We have exciting tasks at BHS, as we will continue to build up the new market segments, such as battery recycling, and at the same time grow with the established products, such as the processes for fine processing of metalliferous wastes. I see great potential in this intersection of proven products and new ideas – and at BHS, the necessary know-how and innovative spirit to develop new solutions for the industry,” says Daniel Zeiler, pleased about having switched to BHS now.
Future-oriented strategy and new point of contact – with a sense of assured continuity
There have been several new developments at BHS-Sonthofen in recent years. One of these developments included a focus on individual business areas, which are now even more closely aligned to the specific needs of the respective customers. Another change involved a consistent expansion of the product and service portfolio. Mr. Zeiler now heads the Recycling Technology division. His position as Vice President combines the responsibilities for sales, project engineering, process development, and the test center. “We are delighted to welcome Mr. Zeiler into the fold – a colleague who will maintain continuity in the Recycling Technology division with great pleasure and commitment, while at the same time working with us to further expand the market position of BHS,” remarks Dennis Kemmann on the choice of the new Vice President.
“I am looking forward to continuing the BHS success story as part of a strong team with flat hierarchies. The proximity to the mountains is a clear advantage after having relocated,” says Zeiler, who enjoys pursuing various mountain sports in his spare time, explaining his decision for the new position with a little smile. Alfred Weber confirms the positive working atmosphere and looks back with gratitude on his time at BHS: “It was a nice time: the great colleagues, customers and partners, the short decision-making processes, and an employer who always supported my further personal development. I’ve been able to drive many things forward at BHS over the last 20 years, but now it’s time for me to just drive my Harley instead.”
BHS-Sonthofen now offers two recycling machines for processing potentially hazardous valuable and waste materials in a protective atmosphere for the first time. The universal shredder (type NGU) and the rotary shear (type VR) are the first machines of this kind that will also be available in an inertizable design in the future. The recycling technology experts have used these two shredders as the basis to develop a new, efficient process in which safety comes first.
Waste materials often contain scarce raw materials that are valuable. Recycling can conserve these resources and close material loops. But what if processing the input materials poses a hazard to people and the environment? Failure to observe these risks may result in fires, explosions or dangerous gas leaks. In addition, some materials contain hazardous chemicals such as toxic fluoric and sulfuric acids. The vapors of these acids are associated with serious health consequences. One solution is inertizable technology that allows them to be recycled in a protective atmosphere. In order to recycle lithium-ion batteries, the process experts at BHS-Sonthofen have now developed two shredding machines for the first time – the rotary shear of type VR 0912, which is a twin-shaft shredder for pre-shredding larger battery modules and packs, and the universal shredder of type NGU 0513, which is a single-shaft shredder for the second shredding stage with battery cells. Both machines operate in a fully nitrogen atmosphere during the shredding process.
BHS-Sonthofen’s inertizable shredders weigh between 12 and 18 tons, and their new function and size make them unique in the field of industrial recycling. “The challenge was not to simply just seal the shredders,” says Manuel Huber, the designer responsible for the NGU 0513, explaining the change in requirements for the machines, “but also to continue to ensure the flexibility and robustness of the machines during operation and maintenance.”
Improved safety with the same functionality
Every single screw and every component, from the funnel to the hydraulic push-in device to the frame and housing, had to be checked for leaks during the design process. “By the time we were finished, not a single screw was still in its original place,” says Kai Grosch, Head of Design for Shredding Technology at BHS-Sonthofen. “Selected components were redesigned as integral welded parts instead of being laboriously bolted together with seals.” This also affects the maintenance of the machines. Instead of replacing wear parts from the outside, as was previously the case, maintenance in contaminated areas is now carried out via an upstream flap.
Safety thanks to special seals
The choice of sealing materials presented a particular challenge. Conventional sealing materials do not provide sufficient protection and resistance to aggressive acids. The engineers at BHS eventually succeeded in finding a promising alternative to the materials commonly used thus far in the form of special sealing materials. High-quality special plastics, which are both resistant to acid and able to bear the weight of the extremely heavy machines, provide the individual composite parts of the design with an additional layer of safety.
Sensors monitor the stability of the nitrogen atmosphere throughout the shredding process. A camera mounted on the rotary shear also enables operators to respond to potentially hazardous situations before they have a chance to develop. In the event of a leak, both machines can be completely flooded with water within a few seconds as a final protective measure. The inertizable shredders offer the same performance and functionality as the proven standard machines, even with all of the modifications.
An opportunity for safe battery recycling
The first step of the recycling process in the protective atmosphere sees the input material fed through a sluice into the sealed area. The BHS rotary shear of type VR handles the pre-shredding process. The standard design of this slow-speed, high-torque twin-shaft shredder uses its interlocking blades to reliably process large objects, from industrial, commercial, household and bulky waste to elastic input materials such as refuse-derived fuels (RDF), tires and textiles. The second shredding step sees the universal shredder (NGU), a high-speed single-shaft shredder, reduces the pre-shredded material to the desired final output size.
So far, BHS-Sonthofen has intensively tested the machines specifically for recycling lithium-ion batteries. In principle, they could be used to process a variety of toxic waste and hazardous materials in a protective atmosphere, from shredding-mixing-pumping (SMP) to hazardous chemical waste. To do this, the sealing materials are adapted to the input material should it be required.
BHS-Sonthofen has launched its proven rotor impact mill, which features a new hammer design and maintenance concept. The high-performance crusher with a vertical shaft is used to recycle metalliferous composites and industrial waste for fine processing. Customers benefit from significantly improved output quality, easier maintenance and a higher degree of machine availability.
Recovering valuable metal concentrates from various composites and industrial waste is a challenge. Users have been achieving good results with the BHS rotor impact mill of type RPMX for many years, especially when utilizing it for fine processing. The machine is a high-performance crusher with a one-of-a-kind impeller rotor that, combined with a toothed anvil ring, processes the feed material with remarkable intensity. The rotor impact mill can process a wide variety of metalliferous residues, including materials such as stainless steel and cable strands, which were previously considered problematic.
Reinvisioned hammer design
BHS has further optimized the stable, horseshoe-shaped hammers while increasing their strength at the same time – setting them apart from the machine’s previous design. “The results and findings of a wide variety of tests conducted over the past few years have been incorporated into the new design,” says Manuel Huber, who is in charge of designing the machine at BHS-Sonthofen. “We studied how geometric changes to the hammers affect the output. Our tests show that making the front of the hammers wider makes the processes for disaggregating and shaping the respective material run much better, which significantly increases the output quality,” Huber explains further.
Customers therefore benefit from even better output quality and less wear at the same time. When processing critical material, this increased output quality translates to better throughput performance, as the number of times the material must be passed through the machine can be reduced.
New concept ensures effective maintenance
In conjunction with the more stable, robust hammer design, the new maintenance concept ensures customers a higher degree of machine availability and easier, more effective maintenance. “A special tool for dislodging the hammers, known as a mandrel, was integrated into the design to facilitate the replacement of cast-iron percussion hammers that are stuck in place. We also integrated a load hook to aid the replacement process. In contrast to the previous method, the new load hook can be hooked into the hammer to easily lift it out or set it in place using a crane. Now, personnel no longer have to expend extra energy lifting the hammer – which reduces the physical strain on employees,” said Huber.
With its new design and maintenance concept, the durable BHS rotor impact mill offers customers investment security and ideal conditions for the secondary crushing and fine processing of metalliferous fractions. The BHS-Sonthofen rotor impact mill sets a new precedent in the recycling industry. As a technology leader for the recycling of metalliferous composites, the company has the ability to use tests to map various processes in its Test Center on a production scale and individually adapt them to respective customer requirements.
The rotor impact mill of type RPMX is one of the exhibits BHS-Sonthofen will have on display at the IFAT in Munich, Germany from 30 May to 3 June 2022 (Stand B4-351/450).
As a technology leader for the recycling of metalliferous composites and industrial waste, BHS-Sonthofen is focusing on the fine processing of metal-containing residues – for example from automotive recycling or electrical and electronic scrap – at this year's IFAT (Booth B4-351/450). A second focus is the process for recycling lithium-ion batteries, which has been tested in various reference cases. BHS will present exhibits related to this process, such as a rotor impact mill with a new hammer design, a horizontal dryer, and a separating table.
The goal is clear: to recover valuable resources. To this end, the Sonthofen-based group of companies continuously invests in future-oriented technologies and novel process solutions that enable customers to extract maximum value, especially when recycling metalliferous composites and industrial waste. At BHS’ trade show appearance at IFAT 2022, the focus will be on the fine processing of various metal-containing residues, such as Automotive Shredder Residue (ASR), e-scrap, and incinerator bottom ash (IBA). “BHS-Sonthofen has further developed its fine preparation process with extensive tests, thus further improving output quality,” explains Daniel Weber, head of the Recycling & Environment division. “The process works just as well for ASR, taking into account material-specific requirements, as it does for the fine processing of all other metal-containing materials such as electrical and electronic scrap or cable remnants.”
New hammer design of the rotor impact mill – higher output quality
The heart of the fine preparation process is the rotor impact mill, which BHS is presenting with a new hammer design at the trade show. The RPMX type rotor impact mill is a high-performance crusher unique in its field, setting standards in fine processing and metal recovery with its impeller rotor and special anvil ring. The machine reliably separates material composites and removes cable sheathing and other substances that adhere to metals. The new hammer design of the rotor impact mill significantly optimizes disaggregation and shaping of the output – while simultaneously reducing wear. Due to the improved output quality, fewer or shorter passes are required, which results in higher throughput. In addition, BHS is presenting a new maintenance concept for the machine that simplifies maintenance and inspection work by the operator and, in combination with the new hammer design, ensures high machine availability.
Proven, innovative recycling process for lithium-ion batteries
The company’s second focus is on the recycling of lithium-ion batteries. For this purpose, BHS has developed a complete mechanical solution that focuses on a high recovery rate of the resources it contains. The process has already been tested worldwide in existing reference plants run by prestigious customers. Thanks to the consistently inert process, from the crusher to the dryer, hazards such as fires or the escape of toxic gases can be avoided. Trade show visitors can expect to see the HTC 140 type horizontal dryer used in this process at IFAT. In the process, the dryer applies a vacuum and heats the pre-crushed batteries to safely evaporate potentially toxic components. The crushed batteries are no longer hazardous after the drying phase.
Separation technology and pre-shredder round off trade show presentation
From the new technological field of separating, sorting and classifying technology, a separating table from BHS and RW Recycling World will be on display at the booth. BHS-Sonthofen has held a stake in the Swiss company since 2021. This cooperative venture allows products from separation, sorting, and classification technology to be integrated into processes from BHS in order to offer solutions from a single source – for example, in the fine preparation process. With the depth of added value and process competence thus expanded, the Sonthofen-based group of companies has further strengthened its position as a technology leader for the recycling of metalliferous composites and industrial waste.
BHS rounds off its trade show presence with the virtually exhibited RAPAX pre-shredder. The powerful machine, which was launched last year, can be used universally: In its various designs, it is suitable for processing metal fractions, commercial and industrial waste, and construction waste. With this machine, BHS combines design and function and takes pre-crushing to a new level.
BHS-Sonthofen at IFAT: Booth B4-351/450 in Munich from May 30 to June 3, 2022
Crop waste and organic waste from the production process have an ever-increasing role in sustainable biogas production in Germany. Some 10,000 kilometers away in Southeast Asia, production residues from pineapple, banana and mango serve the same purpose. Dole Inc., the world’s leading supplier of fresh fruit, operates a biogas plant in the Philippines together with its service partner, METPower. Germany’s MEBA Biogas provided a full complement of systems used to feed the material, including shredding and defibering units from BHS-Sonthofen.
The biogas plant in Surallah, one of Dole’s two production sites for preserved fruit and fruit juices, generates 2.9 MW of energy. In combination with a further plant planned in nearby Polomolok, the company aims to generate around 8 MW of power in the future. To achieve this goal, Dole requires fermenters, storage tanks, as well as suitable systems for efficiently processing substrate. Pineapple waste, the main raw material for local biogas production, has a high energy content. To facilitate nutrient uptake by the microorganisms in the plant, however, the waste must be defibered to achieve reliable, efficient gas production.
METPower Venture Partners, the local partner contracted by Dole to build the biogas plant in the Philippines, hired Lipp GmbH, based in Tannhausen, Germany, to install fermenters and tanks, among other things.
MEBA Biogas supplied all the systems used to feed in and process the waste. For more than ten years, MEBA Biogas has been the exclusive distributor of BHS-Sonthofen. It has installed more biogrinders than any other company worldwide. A Biogrinder of type RBG 08, which will initially be used to defiber the pineapple waste, went into operation in Surallah in August 2021. MEBA Biogas, based in Nördlingen, Germany, also works in close cooperation with biogas specialist Lipp. “Our long-standing partnership with the two companies enabled us to quickly deliver a high-performance solution for the fermentation-friendly processing of the raw materials,” reports Leo van Bree, Managing Director of MEBA Biogas GmbH.
“The Biogrinder of type RBG 08 can process up to 40 metric tons of the waste material now being used an hour, while also delivering maximum energy efficiency,” states Reinhold Jäger, Sales Manager in the Recycling and Environment division at BHS-Sonthofen. In addition to the biogrinder, MEBA Biogas also delivers a screw unit and the control system.
A carefully planned approach
In Germany, silage, straw and grass are among of the materials defibered using the biogrinder. The contractor drew on experience gained in more than 200 installations to put the plant into service in the Philippines. Along with that, successful testing involving bananas and water hyacinths was carried out after the plant was brought online. The results were impressive. “The biogrinder processed the raw materials and local, indigenous materials equally as well,” explains Leo van Bree.
The contaminant-resistant biogrinder can be fitted with two, three or four hammers on each level. In Hardox or stainless-steel models, this can be done on up to two levels. As an added plus, tool changes and upgrades can be carried out in just a few steps.
The second biogas plant currently under construction for Dole in Polomolok is expected to go online in early 2022, according to METPower’s estimates. It will be using the same feed-in system, including the biogrinder, as well. “We look forward to a strong partnership with all parties involved going forward,” Leo van Bree goes on to add. “Sustainable biogas production in the Philippines is on solid ground thanks to this partnership.”
In the future, BHS-Sonthofen will be able to conduct tests on the recycling of batteries in its test center. BHS is using the test runs to adapt its recycling process, which is designed for lithium-ion batteries, to customers’ individual requirements. Thanks to a sophisticated safety system, the approved monitoring body granted permission for the tests to be performed
Performing tests with different feed materials is critical for BHS-Sonthofen when it comes to recycling lithium-ion batteries, too. The results can be used to calculate the economic efficiency of the process and optimally adapt the individual machine components to individual customer requirements. However, recycling lithium-ion batteries is a tricky business. Even with fully discharged batteries, there is always a certain degree of residual risk of a short circuit inside the battery cell during the shredding process, causing a fire that is difficult to extinguish. In addition, highly toxic substances such as extremely corrosive hydrofluoric acids are produced during the process.
Redundant safety measures minimize risks
To guarantee the safety of the test facility and protect employees, BHS-Sonthofen developed a sophisticated safety concept with TÜV Süd and the approved monitoring body: First, BHS checks that the batteries designated for shredding are actually deep discharged in full. They are only fed into the shredding process if the residual voltage is correct and the batteries pass a visual inspection when they arrive at BHS. A rotary shear (type VR) is used for pre-shredding and a universal shredder (type NGU) is used for the main shredding of the material. This is required so that the material is preconditioned for the downstream processing steps such as drying, classifying and sorting. Both shredders have a gas-tight design and are flooded with nitrogen. Pressure sensors and flow meters monitor the inflow of nitrogen. Additional sensors inside the two machines also check the residual oxygen content. This minimizes the potential risk of fire. Temperature and other pressure sensors in the shredders monitor the process itself. In the event of a sudden increase in pressure, the control system reacts and automatically stops the shredding process. If a fire should occur despite the intervention of the control system, for example due to short circuits or polarity in the battery cells reversing spontaneously, the machines can be completely flooded with water. Both machines are located in a tank to ensure that contaminated water does not enter the environment in this scenario. This would then collect extinguishing water and escaping material.
A focus on keeping employees safe
BHS has also taken precautions for storing and transporting shredded battery material to ensure that employees come into as little contact with the material as possible. For example, the shredded batteries fall into UN-certified drums that are hydraulically coupled to the machine during the test. The machines also have a hydraulic slide system to prevent the environment from being contaminated. All employees wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The site fire department is also present during each test. “Redundancies in safety precautions are mandatory for a hazardous material such as batteries,” explains Steffen Hinderer, Director Process Development at BHS-Sonthofen. “We built safety measures into our process to protect against faults, failures and tampering wherever it was possible.”
Successful cooperation between safety officers, technical experts and authorities
Getting official approval for the test center to conduct shredding tests with lithium-ion batteries was not a simple process, as Hinderer explains: “At the beginning, it was far from clear as to what hazardous substances were produced and what the composition of the waste gases produced during the process was. To find out how often it would be necessary to change the filter in the exhaust gas purification system, for example, we also had to obtain prior approval for the initial tests – of course, we already paid meticulous attention to the safety of people and the environment and coordinated each individual test with the authorities.” BHS worked closely with TÜV Süd and the approved monitoring body during the entire process overall. Once a year, the approved monitoring body carries out the inspection and checks any adjustments to the process – for example, if BHS also wants to carry out tests with solid batteries in the future.
British recycling specialists Recycling Lives commissioned a recycling plant that was planned and implemented by BHS-Sonthofen. The plant is designed to handle a variety of materials such as automotive shredder residue (ASR), electric and electronic scrap (WEEE) as well as so-called “meatballs” (electric motors and motor armatures). The process developed together with the company is based on a profitability analysis and ensures marketable end products.
In the process of expanding capacities, the British recycling company Recycling Lives decided it required a plant that could process different materials simultaneously at its 15-acre Recycling Park in Preston. These included ASR, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), metal composites and meatballs. After BHS had drawn up an initial concept for a plant, extensive tests were carried out at the Sonthofen test center with about two to three metric tons of each material required by the customer.
BHS calculated profitability after tests in the test center
Customers of BHS-Sonthofen need a validated basis for decision-making before they invest in a new plant. Data on throughput and material quality, among other parameters, is collected during the tests and analyses in the test center. This information is then used to create a mass balance a profitability analysis– a key advantage for customers. The recycling company used the calculation to estimate the profitability of the plant investment.”
Accordingly, the experts from BHS designed the plant based on the test data. The feed material is supplied to the Rotorshredder of type RS 3218 via a feeder. The tools of the Rotorshredder exert a very intense stress on the feed material through impact, shock and shearing forces. The result is selective size shredding: Particle sizes are selectively reduced and composite materials are separated. All fine fractions of particle sizes smaller than 25 mm are processed on other existing plants. The fraction >25 mm is conveyed to a zigzag sifter, which frees the feed material from light material (fluff, films, fibers, dust, etc.).
The cleaned material is then transported via an overhead magnet to a cyclone separator, which was included in the order to BHS. In the overall control concept BHS took these assemblies into account and also supplied the steel structures for these parts of the plant. The process, which was developed by BHS together with the British customer, produces market-ready end products.
Recycling Lives’ Chief Engineer Gary Halpin explained: “Since the machine was installed three years ago downstream from our main shredder at the Recycling Park in Preston, it has proved efficient in further reducing the particulate size for more efficient extraction of metals and other materials from the waste stream. It is a valuable element within our waste processing operation, helping to extract maximum value and also increase the amount of material that can be recycled as we progress towards a circular economy solution.”
Machinery and plant engineering expert BHS-Sonthofen has expanded its test center at the Sonthofen site and has undergone modernization work in the areas of recycling and environmental technology. BHS conducts tests with shredding, sorting, and conveyor technology for the recycling industry and environmental technology in a space that spans nearly 1,000 square meters. This allows BHS to offer its customers the option of testing all process steps.
When it comes to recycling and the environment, no two input materials are ever the same. That is why it is imperative that recycling companies conduct extensive tests with the respective input material before deciding on a specific plant layout. At its company headquarters in Sonthofen, Germany, BHS offers customers and interested parties in the area of recycling the opportunity to conduct comprehensive tests using their own input materials. Magnets, screening, and various separating tables provide the right technology for sorting shredded products.
“As a leading process consultant and mechanical process technology provider, it is our responsibility to develop all-in-one solutions together with our customers that are perfectly adapted to their needs,” explains Steffen Hinderer, Director Process Development at BHS-Sonthofen. “Our test center, which opened in summer 2019, has already raised the bar in the areas of mixing, shredding, recycling, and filtering. Thanks to the expansion of the recycling and environment test division, our customers are able to test all their processes in this area even more comprehensibly in our facilities.”
Turnkey systems for improved overall process efficiency
In addition to optimizing the conveyor technology, investments for the expanded area of recycling also include sorting machines that perfectly complement the process expertise of BHS-Sonthofen. Dryers and mixers can also be installed upon request. “Our customers can now test their entire recycling processes, all the way from the input material to finished products on-site at our facilities. Our “one-stop shop” approach allows you to test your complete systems in a time and cost-efficient manner,” explains Steffen Hinderer.
In the expanded test center, customers will also be able to gain an impression of suitable plant control systems for the area of recycling and environment. This involves control systems for complete plants from BHS Control Systems, which are specifically tailored to the requirements of the customer. The user benefits from the base software’s open interface architecture: the Win CC Open Architecture. The scalable system allows the wide range of components to be integrated smoothly and therefore the plant control systems can be expanded as required and without large investments.
Put to the test: recycling of lithium-ion batteries
BHS can now also test the shredding of electrolyte-loaded and deep-discharged lithium-ion batteries at its Sonthofen location. “The recycling of lithium-ion batteries comes with great challenges in terms of safety,” says Hinderer. “That’s why many providers do not possess the necessary infrastructure.” At BHS Sonthofen’s, the shredding of battery packs, modules and cells with an individual weight of up to 220 kg can be tested in a closed nitrogen atmosphere inside the machines.
BHS-Sonthofen’s new RAPAX combines design and functionality in one powerful pre-shredder. Versatile, sturdy and easy to maintain, this machine is perfectly suited for processing various metal fractions, commercial waste, industrial waste and construction waste. The flexible, smart control system also ensures efficient pre-shredding in every running direction.
BHS has been developing and building shredders for over one hundred years. RAPAX was developed in close collaboration with an industrial designer. The aim was to outfit this innovative technology, which represents a new level in pre-shredding, with an intelligent design. The focus was on functional design elements that make the RAPAX sturdier and easier to maintain, such as the intersecting struts on the funnel, which ensure greater stability. The surface, wall thickness and shape of the funnel are also sturdy and feature precise edges to avoid signs of wear and material build-up. The two planetary gears with belt drive are positioned side by side, as opposed to diagonally opposite, so as to save space.
Equipped for different applications
Efficient shredding is the first important step to a functioning material cycle. BHS offers the RAPAX pre-shredder in a number of different designs and sizes to ensure that it can optimally process a wide range of input materials, ranging from light scrap metal, electrical and electronic waste, industrial and commercial waste, to worn-out drywall and asphalt tiles. It is available as part of either the 15xx or 20xx series in three different sizes, with shaft lengths ranging between 1.2 and 3.2 meters. These allow the RAPAX to effectively shred extremely bulky input material such as construction waste or white goods. Two different tool geometries are available, depending on the design – either the highly serrated BAT shape version for a higher throughput in the case of light waste, or the sturdy JANUS shape for heavy input material. The tearing table is located below the two shafts, which can be used along with the number of tools to determine the particle size. The electrical drive is also available in different power outputs – up to 400 KW can be installed on request. A hydraulic pusher device is optionally available. It ensures continuous material infeed when processing low-density, light or bulky fractions.
In contrast to many other shredders, the center distance of the two shafts on the RAPAX has been deliberately selected to ensure that the tools do not interlock. This ensures an optimal infeed torque with minimal energy consumption at the same time.
Fewer machine downtimes and easy maintenance
“The pre-shredding process sometimes involves a tremendous amount of force. So with that in mind, we placed a great deal of importance on the RAPAX being sturdy and easy to maintain,” says Ingo Schneemann, the responsible mechanical designer in crushing technology at BHS. Rubber buffers have been installed on the drive unit for this purpose, which absorb the impact and protect the gearbox from damage. The design of the tool and the reversing control system prevent material from wrapping around the shafts or adhering to them, which in turn avoids machine downtimes. The machine is also designed to ensure that wear parts such as the shafts and tearing table can be easily removed and replaced. BHS-Sonthofen offers a wide range of services to customers on-site, from installation and commissioning to technical service and maintenance agreements.
An intelligent control system for maximum performance
The shafts can be controlled with total flexibility, meaning they can move synchronously, asynchronously and in reverse. The RAPAX is designed to shred material in every running direction. The control system makes it possible to select the appropriate program consisting of different movement sequences for every input material. “The input materials used by our customers can vary greatly, especially in the area of metal recycling. Whether it’s small electrical equipment or white goods, for example – our various programs ensure optimal shredding,” says Schneemann. The control system could do even more in the future. Plans for the future include using artificial intelligence to make it able to react even more flexibly to the input material. BHS is still collecting the appropriate data for this, but every RAPAX is already equipped to utilize it in principle.
Choosing the right shredding solution is important when recycling aluminum and aluminum scrap. That’s why a waste management company located in southern Germany opted for the proven Rotorshredder (RS) from BHS-Sonthofen. This machine not only shreds the feed material, but also optimally breaks up composites, which results in fractions with a high degree of purity.
Aluminum scrap accumulates in many different forms, ranging from aluminum profile rails and Zorba fractions to shredder heavy fractions. A major challenge for recycling plants is contamination with other materials, in particular. For example, wood, plastic, and even other metals adhere to the sought-after aluminum. Which is why the materials need to be separated when processing these mixtures. For this reason, a waste management company based in southern Germany turned to BHS-Sonthofen at the end of 2019 in search of a new recycling solution for the 30,000 metric tons of non-ferrous metals that the company recycles annually.
The ideal choice: the Rotorshredder from BHS-Sonthofen
The processing expert had already had good experiences with technology from BHS-Sonthofen in the past. The company once again opted for BHS-Sonthofen, primarily due to the longevity and precise fit of the recycling solutions. Christian Kühn, Sales Director for Recycling & Environmental Technology at BHS-Sonthofen, explains: “The proven Rotorshredder of type RS 2018 was fitted with additional reinforcements for the processing of aluminum in accordance with the special requirements.” After receiving a hardened housing, a double-walled base, and a new suspension system, it was commissioned in December 2019. The waste management company is satisfied with the start-up phase as well as the first months of operation.
The No. 1 experts in recycling
The recycling of raw materials plays an increasingly important role. For example, a recycling plant’s profitability hinges on high purity levels in particular. BHS-Sonthofen considers each application individually and chooses a shredding solution appropriate to the situation. “Impurities are a major problem when it comes to aluminum scrap,” explains Christian Kühn. “It’s not just about shredding the feed material, but it’s also about breaking down the materials in particular.” The Rotorshredder uses selective shredding to do so; aluminum is ductile, impurities such as plastic are hard and brittle. Impact forces deform the aluminum, causing the impurities to break down. In the process, the composites are efficiently separated from the feed material. After classification takes place, the high-purity aluminum is ready for sale. “It is to our advantage to have our own test center where we can carry out tests on the entire recycling process with the respective feed material, including the subsequent profitability calculation,” explains Kühn. “We can provide the customer with the exact machine or plant that is suitable for their requirements.”
At its biogas plant near Chandigarh in the state of Punjab, the Indian company Source Facility uses a BHS Biogrinder to process paddy straw, coconut shells and other organic waste materials. The Biogrinder works for multiple feed materials and allows for an efficient biogas production process.
India generates a large amount of agricultural waste, including crop residues. As burning organic waste is considered to be a major cause of air pollution, the government of India has been offering incentives to mitigate the pollution problem and convert paddy straw into biogas. At the same time, biomass such as rice straw that is widely available in India is a promising source of renewable energy. “Especially in northern part of India, rice straw will be an important raw material for biogas production”, says Neelesh Desai, Managing Director of BHS-Sonthofen India.
Source Facility, an Indian operator of biodigesters, purchased a Biogrinder to process rice straw, empty coconut shells and fruit/vegetable waste. Before choosing a machine from BHS, they tested shredding solutions from local providers. The results were unsatisfying, as these machines were not capable of handling multiple materials. “It was very important to Source Facility to have the freedom to allow a broad spectrum of feed materials”, Desai comments. In addition, the machine offers both excellent size reduction and defibration, which is critical for the biogas production process.
The biogas is produced by micro-organisms during fermentation. The more defibrated the material, the more surface the bacteria have to colonize. Inside the machine is a rapidly turning, star-shaped rotor with a vertical shaft and massive crushing tools. Homogenizing the material, the machine prepares it optimally for the next process step. Source Facility tested various materials for 2 weeks on trial. After the results were satisfactory, they placed an order. The Biogrinder was put into operation in late 2019 and the customer is very satisfied with the increase in Biogas production.
“We are getting a lot of inquiries in India about biomass processing, as the government pushes toward more sustainable use of organic waste”, says Desai. “So far, there are only few biogas plants in India, but many companies are planning to set up new plants across India. With the Biogrinder, BHS-Sonthofen is offering an easy-to-maintain, particularly durable machine for efficient substrate processing.”
BHS-Sonthofen has launched a new, completely redesigned version of the successful Biogrinder on the market. The Biogrinder is used in biomass processing, where it ensures that biogas is generated efficiently and production is accelerated. The machine is now fitted with a disk rotor and stainlesssteel components, making it stand out thanks to its improved durability and flexibility.
Biogas is produced by microorganisms during fermentation. BHS-Sonthofen’s customers use the BHS Biogrinder of type RGB in their biomass processing plants to process biological materials for the fermentation process as efficiently as possible. “The more shredded the material is, the greater the number of contact surfaces the microorganisms have to attack, meaning biogas is generated even more efficiently,” explains Reinhold Jäger, Area Sales Manager in BHS-Sonthofen’s Recycling and Environment division. Energy-rich plants are subject intensive mechanical pre-processing in the Biogrinder. As a result, the gas generation process is accelerated and the fermentation process is stabilized.
The new, redesigned Biogrinder, which is available now, offers the user advantages in terms of improved durability first and foremost. “We are essentially talking about two innovations here,” says Jäger. “The first is that the rotor has a modular design. This means that the previous two-stage rotor has been replaced with a disk rotor. Each individual level can be replaced flexibly, depending on wear, while the base unit remains intact for a very long period of time.”
The second innovation – the extensive use of stainless steel – also boosts the durability of the machine. “The processed plant material is obviously in a state of decay,” says Jäger. “This decay causes acids to form that corrode the ferrous metals. The corrosion then amplifies the abrasive wear process. All of the machine’s components that come into direct contact with the material are now made of stainless steel.” This applies to the inner linings in particular, such as the rotor, side walls or inlet and outlet. The stainless steel prevents corrosion, extending the wear time considerably.
This makes the continuously operating Biogrinder even more robust. The proven machine still boasts all of its previous customer advantages. The Biogrinder (type RBG) is easy to operate and maintain. Even feed materials that are considered difficult or impossible to recycle can be processed with the Biogrinder. Plus, the Biogrinder consumes less electricity in comparison to other biomass crushers.
A BHS-Sonthofen rotor impact mill (type RPMX) has been in operation at Jansen Shredder Recycling BV in Moerdijk, the Netherlands, for the fine processing of automotive shredder residues (ASR) for almost a year. Thanks to years of experience in the processing of metal-bearing waste materials, the experts from Sonthofen found the optimal machine for processing abrasive materials. Wear costs at Jansen have significantly decreased since.
Residual materials from shredders from automobile recycling is made up of a wide variety of different materials. In addition to plastic, rubber, and textile fibers, ASR contains valuable non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, brass, and copper, as well as mineral components and glass. The latter makes efficient processing difficult, which Jansen Shredder Recycling learned the hard way.
Where it all started: a sophisticated process with a weakness
A sophisticated process should have ensured that Jansen obtains the highest possible yield of recyclable materials – especially metals. First, the heavy particles were separated at the Jansen site by means of a cross-flow separator. The remaining fraction was pre-crushed in the existing granulator. A non-ferrous fraction could then be extracted from the material using eddy current separation. The non-inductive fraction, however, always contained valuable non-ferrous metals in addition to plastics and minerals. These non-ferrous metals were copper cables and other metal composites. Up until this point, Jansen used fine-grinding mills directly after eddy current separation to recover this fraction of the remaining metals. However, this is exactly where the weakness in the otherwise sophisticated procedure stemmed from: the wear costs of the fine-grinding mills used were unexpectedly high. These machines were designed for use with abrasive components. Glass and mineral components resulted in wear costs of €35 per ton of input material. The profits from the recovered metals could not make up for these losses. This meant a new solution was required.
Implementing expertise from rock crushing in the ASR recycling process
Jansen Shredder Recycling turned to BHS-Sonthofen. The Dutch company was already familiar with the rotor impact mill (type RPMX) from BHS. In order to ensure that the mill from BHS was capable of pulverizing abrasive materials and dissolving and pelletizing non-ferrous materials, Jansen traveled to Sonthofen with the original input material and performed the corresponding tests with the recycling experts onsite.
Originally, the rotor impact mill comes from the stone and earth sector: The models RPM und RPMF were used for the targeted shredding of abrasive materials, such as river gravel. The RPMX was especially optimized for the recycling industry. Due to its solid construction and chilled cast chrome wear parts, it is extremely resistant, and, therefore, ideal for processing ASR fractions, as is done at Jansen Shredder Recycling.
As it turned out, results were convincing. The mill reliably destroyed glass and minerals. “In many cases, the material only needs to be run through our RPMX once to achieve the desired shaping and be able to separate the material on air separation tables,” explains Nikolas Kaufeisen, Area Sales Manager in the Recycling & Environment division at BHS-Sonthofen. “If pelletizing requirements are not met after the first run through, the material can be run through the rotor impact mill a second time.” At Jansen Shredder Recycling, the decision was made not to recycle the material and to carry out the last pelletizing step in the existing fine-grinding mill. “Adding the rotor impact mill from BHS to the process as an intermediate step resulted in a significant increase in profits,” reports Hans Brekelmanns, Managing Director at Jansen Shredder Recycling. “We were able to lower wear costs by approximately 75 percent overall.”
The rotor impact mill was integrated in ASR processing at Jansen Shredder Recycling BV in March 2019. This has increased the efficiency of the entire process. They were also very happy with the consultation provided by the experts from BHS and more joint projects have already been planned.
The Association for Waste Management Kempten (Zweckverband für Abfallwirtschaft Kempten – ZAK) has been using a new biomass treatment plant since May 2019. Technology worth about €2.8 million in total now ensures that foreign matter is optimally removed from organic waste and green waste before it can be fermented. The plant-based elements must be effectively homogenized in order to achieve the best result for the latter. That’s why a BHSSonthofen Biogrinder is now used to process and shred this material. Its low power consumption with very good shredding results, even for challenging input material, are what make it stand out.
The Association for Waste Management Kempten (ZAK) is a consortium made up of waste management bodies in the city of Kempten and the districts of Lindau and Oberallgäu in southern Germany. The waste of 312,000 residents is collected, recycled and disposed of in ZAK’s waste management plants. These include a fermentation plant for green waste and organic waste, a composting plant for green waste and a waste-to-energy plant in Kempten. Some 25,000 tons of green waste and organic waste are processed in the fermentation plant each year. This is used to produce natural gas, with a biogas yield of three million standard cubic meters in total per year. In order to achieve this, the plant manufacturer Komptech GmbH from Frohnleiten, Austria, was commissioned to plan and construct a new biomass treatment plant.
BHS-Sonthofen: a strong partner for homogenizing organic waste
Komptech is a leading international technological provider of machines and systems for the mechanical and biological treatment of waste material. Its core competencies include composting, fermentation and biomass treatment. This company got BHS-Sonthofen on board as a strong partner to carry out ZAK’s planning order for the new biomass treatment plant. The project posed a variety of challenges, including removing high volumes of foreign matter like plastic from organic waste and maximizing gas yield. The issue of undesired components in organic waste could be resolved by using better separation technology. A screen, overhead magnets and a near-infrared sorter now separate organic waste from carelessly discarded plastic bags and metal parts.
BHS-Sonthofen came into play for more efficient biogas production. “The biogas is produced by microorganisms during fermentation. The more shredded the material, the more settlement areas the bacteria have,” explains Andreas Breuer, division head for Technology, Waste Management and New Energies at ZAK. “In the course of plant planning with Komptech, we explicitly requested the BHS Biogrinder as a plant component, as we had already had good experiences with this machine in preliminary tests – it homogenized our input material perfectly.” The machine also had to have a low power consumption and be maintenance-friendly.
Finding the best solution for the customer
Each processing step for biomass is individual, as the input material determines the process as well as the choice of suitable machine, equipment and settings. “We had carried out preliminary tests with the middle fraction of ZAK’s organic waste beforehand. This proved that the Biogrinder optimally prepares the material for the next process step in the fermenter,” says Tobias Steinhauser, Area Sales Manager for the Recycling & Environmental Technology division at BHS. The machine is the final step of the new plant and pre-shedding and sorting are carried out downstream. The organic waste is separated into fine, medium and coarse fractions. While the coarse fraction is combusted, the fine and middle fractions are suitable for fermentation in the fermentation plant and thus also gas production. However, the middle fraction has to also be further homogenized in the Biogrinder.
The materials are fed into the center of the Biogrinder from the top. Inside the machine is a rapidly turning, star-shaped rotor with a vertical shaft and massive crushing tools. “The feed materials are centrifuged to fling them outwards and intensively processed through impact, shock and shearing forces,” explains Steinhauser. “The process is continuous – the homogenized material is then pushed downwards and outwards.” The Biogrinder of type RBG 08 with 90 kW was selected for this very specific range of tasks and the high material volume, as it can process up to six tons per hour in this application scenario.
Supplying electricity and heating for the region
After just a few weeks of use, Breuer from ZAK is already delighted with the new plant: “We have been able to increase our biogas yield by five percent. And this isn’t just a massive gain from an economic perspective – being able to recover as much value as possible from waste materials is also good for the environment.”
The biogas with approx. 55 percent methane content is converted into electrical and thermal energy in three cogeneration units and supplies electricity to about 2,000 households and heat to approx. 200 households. “Thanks to our physical proximity to BHS-Sonthofen, maintenance technicians and spare parts arrive on site very quickly whenever we need them,” adds Breuer, noting a further advantage. “This also saves long transport and journey times, which is also beneficial to the environment.”