PARSE: Developing the Future of U.S. Recycling

Funded by ARPA-E, PARC is developing a light metal scrap sorting probe to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions, and costs through identification and recycling of typically discarded scrap. 

Samples of typical aluminum scrap from shredded automobiles.

Samples of typical aluminum scrap from
shredded automobiles.

Today most aluminum recycling streams are shipped overseas for sorting and recycling since current sorting technologies for light metals are either too expensive or ineffective. This presents a true loss as both valuable metals and the energy embedded in these metals leave the country. The energy required to process new material could be avoided if a cost-effective, domestic solution to sorting light metal scrap existed.

PARC, with funding from ARPA-E, is addressing this problem by developing a novel aluminum sorting method that will allow rapid and economical classification of alloys. PARC’s Probing Alloys for Rapid Sorting Electrochemically (PARSE) technology uses an electrochemical diagnostic probe to quickly determine the alloy class of scrap samples. PARC received nearly $1 million from ARPA-E’s METALS program, which will develop innovative technologies for cost-effective processing as well as recycling of Aluminum, Magnesium, and Titanium.

The proprietary probing method is based on electrochemical oxidation of the alloy in a customized ionic liquid electrolyte during brief contact with the metal. Unlike aqueous solutions, this class of materials—similar to salts but liquid at room temperature—can support relatively high voltages without breaking down and can make electrochemical measurements possible on a wide array of metals.  Our research shows that alloy types can be distinguished very rapidly in this way, offering speed and precision that can only be matched with much more costly approaches.

We are excited about the potential of PARSE and the inherent energy benefits that may derive from the application of the technology. You can learn more about our latest ARPA-E projects, including PARSE, printed integral batteries, and SENSOR, this week at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit and Technology Showcase (Booth #1115, #1117, and #1119) or visit our Cleantech and Energy page.

Join us at the PARC Innovation Lab, March 13 – 14, 2014. Register today!

Read PARC’s new white paperThe Camera Doesn’t Lie:  Rapid Observation to Create Better Customer Experiences