Aluminum, Magnets, Copper And Steel Inside Computers

If you’re getting rid of an old computer or two, have you considered recycling the metal content? Metal recycling helps the environment by reducing the need to mine for metals and other minerals and all of the used resources that comes with drilling. Recycling can also put some extra cash in your pocket as you take your scrap metal to recycling centers and third-party buyers. Before tossing the entire system into the garbage, take the time to understand what you’d be contributing to through recycling and how recycling can contribute to you.

Sources Of Aluminum

Aluminum is a versatile, affordable building material that is found in many components, but that doesn’t mean the extraction process isn’t an issue. A lot of fuel goes into the extraction and processing of many materials, and aluminum is no different. Because of this, aluminum can be considered the introductory level of recycling for people who want to scrap for some side income.

One of the first sources of scrap aluminum you’ll encounter is the computer case. Even though modern computers utilize a lot of plastic for aesthetic appeal, there’s still an underlying frame and at least one side panel made of aluminum. The only major exception is for computers with more rugged standards for survivability, in which case steel is used more often.

Inside the computer, many components are encased in aluminum. Hard drives, optical drives (CD, DVD and Blu-ray drives) and the computer power supply all utilize an aluminum or steel case for protection. These cases can be removed with a screwdriver in most cases, but they tend to be compact enough that you can leave the components intact.

Heat sinks offer another source of aluminum. These components are solid blocks of aluminum or copper that have fins cut through the top. Air passes between the fins to transfer heat away, often with the assistance of a fan or other advanced cooling devices. Aluminum is the usual material for heat sinks, while copper is used for custom systems needing more aggressive cooling measures.

Magnet And Copper Sources

Digging into components can net a few more recyclable materials. One critical recycling material is the rare earth magnet, which can be found inside hard drives. Keep in mind that these magnets are not found in solid state drives (SSDs), which are slowly becoming a replacement (or supplement, as it’s too early to tell where development will go) for hard drive technology.

Copper can be found in wiring across the computer and even inside the hard drive, but one vital (and dangerous) copper source is the power supply. Power supplies can hold a latent charge of electricity for long periods of time within their capacitors, which can deliver a dangerous electrical shock if opened and manipulated. Leave such opening to a trained, certified electrician who can discharge the power supply.

If you need storage bins or details on current recycling pay rates, contact a metal recycling company such as Cen-Tex Scrap & Metal Inc.

Author: Emma Days

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