Duncan recyling & refining - Precious metal recovery from spent catalysts - Case Study


Courtesy of Tetronics (International) Limited

The Challenge
Spent catalysts contain Precious Metals, specifically the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) that are valuable as a result of their low natural abundance, unique properties as well as the complex and costly processes that are required for their extraction/refining from primary sources.

Duncan Refining and Recycling's (DR2) President, David Nichols, made the decision to install Tetronics' plasma arc technology at its plant in Oklahoma after seeing it in action during a trip to Europe two years ago. After recognising the technology's potential he decided to make it central to his new business which will use plasma to extract and refine the valuable platinum group metals and ceramics found in catalytic converters.

The Solution
Tetronics announced in February 2015 that it had signed a deal with DR2 to provide its plasma arc technology for the recovery of precious metals from catalytic converters found in cars.

Using Tetronics' plasma arc recovery system means DR2 will be able to recover the highest amount of precious metals found in catalytic converters, whilst having the smallest impact on the envionrmnet. This gives it the lowest cost per troy ounce (the unit precious metals are measured in) to the producer of any recovered platinum group metals.

The deal represents contiuned export success for Tetronics which has been firmly established in international markets for decades. Its plasma arc systems are globally recognised as the most sustainable, future-proof solution for recovering valuable resources from materials including spent catalysts, electronics and mining ores. Tetronics will develop and deliver a plasma refining plant for DR2, based in Duncan, Oklahoma.

Key Facts

  • The plant is due to become fully operational in 2016
  • The plant will have the capacity to process 6 tonnes of catalytic converters a day - equivalent to two million catalytic converters every year
  • Once recovered, the precious metals will be sold so they can be re-used in a variety of products and processes
  • Waste that isn't valuable will be recovered into an inert material called Plasmarok®, which can be used as a building aggregate
  • The plant will be one of 11 Tetronics precious metal recovery plants installed worldwide.

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