Design, fabrication, and control of an autonomous sorting system for non-ferrous metal recycling

Christopher DiPaola
Autonomous sorting systems are applied to pure and heterogeneous types of metallic materials for recycling purposes with goals of efficiency in mind. The purpose of this work was design and build an adjustable, automated, conveyor included sorting system, and validate and evaluate its function and performance for sorting copper and aluminum pieces in experiments. An overview of sorting methods in recycling, mining and other industries are provided to examine the choices made in the design this
more » ... ystem. Fabrication steps were taken with facility factors in mind to build and mount the individual components of the system. Challenges faced in the fabrication and operations of the system are also considered. Individual components including compressed air, IR detection, and computer controls are integrated together into the final system. Demonstrations of the system components is done for each component separately, and then merged to form the finalized system. The design features the use of IR sensors to identify a variety of non-uniform copper and aluminum pieces quickly, an array of relays to open manifold outlets automatically, twenty solenoid valves with compressed air actuation for timely control of air flow, and a computer-based data acquisition system for real-time sensing and control under MATLAB-Simulink real-time software environment. Safety features are added to the system so that accidents can be prevented while utilizing the industrial components. This setup is built successfully and met the design expectation. Experimental implementation to sort the copper and aluminum particles (each ranging from 0.5in to 1in wide) shows that the system is very useful at detecting and shooting materials at speeds from 15-45cm/s. This setup provides the capability to implement the same methods industry uses and has the flexibility for prototyping future applications. The experimental results show non-ferrous metal pieces can be successfully identified and sorted.
doi:10.7282/t3-rzws-7d24 fatcat:326pgyaup5gljn37mwbr45mjsa