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Specialized Imaging System for Light Metal Sorting

BlazeTech
Hyperspectral Imaging for the Identification of Light Metals
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$248,608
Location: 
Woburn, MA
Project Term: 
01/01/2014 to 03/31/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Recycling light metals such as aluminum, titanium, and magnesium from scrap is primarily done manually, making it an inefficient and expensive process. Existing automated technologies are unable to distinguish different types of alloys. Innovation in light metal recycling is crucial because light metals can be used to reduce the weight of cars and aircraft, which could significantly reduce both energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transportation. Cost-effective scrap recycling could dramatically reduce the cost of light-weight metals, such as those used for aircraft construction and vehicle light-weighting.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
BlazeTech is developing advanced sorting software that uses a specialized camera to distinguish multiple grades of light metal scrap by examining how they reflect different wavelengths of light. Existing identification technologies rely on manual sorting of light metals, which can be inaccurate and slow. BlazeTech's sorting technology would identify scrap metal content based on the way that each light metal appears under BlazeTech's sorting camera, automating the sorting process and enabling more comprehensive metal recycling. The software developed under this program will be used to dramatically improve existing metal sorting systems. This technology offers great potential to improve the efficiency of light metals recycling, as similar techniques have proven successful in other industries, including vegetation surveying and plastics identification.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, BlazeTech's recycling technology will reduce energy consumption, CO2 emissions, and costs associated with manufacturing light metal components.
Security: 
Light-weighting vehicles to improve fuel efficiency could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign fossil fuel resources used in the transportation industry.
Environment: 
Recycling scrap metal enables the offsetting of 0.3 Quad of production energy, which would result in substantial reductions in CO2 emissions throughout the industry.
Economy: 
Scrap metal recycling could generate over $1 billion in annual revenue in the U.S.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. James Klausner
Project Contact: 
Dr. Malima Wolf
Release Date: 
9/19/2013