Friday, September 26, 2014

Rare Earth Metals, Technology, Politics and the Perpetual Motion Machine

Rare Earth Metals, Technology, Politics and the Perpetual Motion Machine:

Rare Earth MetalsBelieve it or not, there is a technology that manufactures a product that combines these seemingly unre-lated business and political fields.

The product is manufactured from rare earth metals that are extracted from mining operations using an acid solution. The used waste acid stream which is the byproduct created by stripping the metals from the ore, is recycled for continuous reuse.

Rare Earth Material UsesIn other words “No Waste Stream”, only a product stream that is rich in rare earth metals and a recycled acid stream. The acid is sent back to be reused in the mining operation forming a continuous recycling for the extraction of the rare earth metals.

According to the Law of Conservation of Mass states “for any system matter or energy with mass, must remain constant over time.” Mining of rare earth metals can apply this law to the separation and production of the individual metal elements.

By creating recycled acid solutions helps these mining companies minimize chemical usage and waste streams which is an ongoing issue for this industry.

When you hear the words rare earth metals, commonly one might instantly think of silver and gold. One could easily overlook the other obvious metals such as Terbium (used in sonar equipment), Scandium, (manufactured into aerospace components) or even Thulium (portable X-Ray machines).

Common Use of Rare Earth Metals:
Rare Earth MiningRare earth metals have a variety of use in the manufacturing industries. These metals range from high tech equipment, medical equipment, military weapons, and even in common everyday items such as cell phones.

In 2010 China cut their export quota for rare earth metals by 40% causing quite a bit of concern around the globe. As of 2013 China contained 80% of the 17 minerals and announced they were still not meeting their own demand.

Rare Earth Supply ChartHowever, due to the mobility of American mining indus-tries, along with other companies and entrepreneurs the U.S. was able to re-open several mining operations. The increase production helped to meet the US requirements for these metals.

The irony of the term “rare earth metals” is the fact not that rare. To mine these elements is a combination of labor intensive, complex processes and environmentally hazardous by-products. This causes concerned companies to look for alternatives to the excessive use of chemistry and having to deal with the environmental impact of this type of mining operation.

Diffusion Dialysis AP-1800Mech-Chem Associates, Inc. has a patented membrane technology called Diffusion Dialysis. This technology separates the metal bearing solution from the acid solution. One side of the membrane produces a metal rich solution that is used for the production of rare earth metals. The other side of the membrane produces the recovered acid solution that is recycled back into the ore leaching operation. This Diffusion Dialysis system keeps the acid solution in a perpetual and sustainable cycle.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Did you see Mech-Chem Associates at the 2014 NASF Surface Finishing Tradeshow in Cleveland, OH?

Mech-Chem Associates visited Cleveland, OH June 9th thru 11th for the 2014 NASF Surface Finishing Tradeshow.  

Mech-Chem is a full service engineering & design firm who showcased their technologies and capabilities in Acid Recovery & Chemical Processing. These technologies included a full line of Acid Recovery Diffusion Dialysis Systems as well as design capabilities for Alkaline Cleaning, Acid Etching, and Chemical Milling Systems.

The SUR/FIN 2014 show had many exhibitors displaying numerous metal parts that either used chemical coating, plating or acid etching baths for processing. Mech-Chem displayed their experienced chemistry design knowledge on how to recover the acids from these types of baths including Aluminum, Titanium and Nickel alloys.

Mech-Chem was please to visit the Cleveland Convention Center and take part of the 2014 NASF SUR/FIN Tradeshow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Battery Recycling

What is the Most Recycled Product in the U.S.?
According the Scientific American: “The most recycled product is not aluminum cans--only half are recycled. Or even office paper, at more than 70 percent. It's the lead acid batteries from your car. More than 99 percent of such batteries wind up recycled.”

The US Environmental protection Agency states: “Almost any retailer that sells lead-acid batteries collects used batteries for recycling, as required by most state laws.” Reclaimers crush batteries into nickel-sized pieces and separate the plastic components. They send the plastic to a reprocessor for manufacture into new plastic products and deliver purified lead to battery manufacturers and other industries. A typical lead-acid battery contains 60 to 80 percent recycled lead and plastic.

 What’s the only component of the Battery not recycled?
“ACID?” The question is “WHY?” when technology exists to also recycle this component of the battery.

Automobile batteries contain sulfuric acid, which is commonly referred to as "battery acid". Sulfuric acid is highly corrosive, will burn skin and eyes if contact is made and is poisonous if swallowed.

When a battery is cracked, or crushed, during the recycle process, the sulfuric acid is collected. This acid contains several toxic heavy metals such as copper, zinc and lead.

According to AA, the battery recycling industry has several options in dealing with the acid removed from batteries. “It can be neutralized and tested before being released to the environment; or it can be converted to sodium sulfate, a product used in fertilizer, dyes and other products, or reused in new

The standard for most of the industries that recycle and/or produce batteries are to simply neutralize the sulfuric acid, and allow the heavy metals to fall out of solution as a solid. The majority of solids are removed from the solution and pressed into a soft cake like mass, which in turn is sent out to landfills for disposal. The remaining liquid is allowed to flow to the local towns waste treatment plant or streams and rivers, depending on which one is the permitted discharge point of the facility
handling the waste sulfuric acid.

Recycling of batteries almost 100% completely recycled?

This magnitude of waste acid does not need to be generated seeing there is technology today to remove the contaminates in the acid and reuse the sulfuric acid in the batteries.

Mech-Chem Associates, Inc. has worked with several recyclers and manufacturers over the last few years. Each using a lab unit to experiment on removal of contaminates in the acid as well as acid strength returned after passing through the dialysis process.

Based on the correspondences we had with these companies, after they had generated enough acid to Beta test batteries, it was noticed by both the sales team, management and engineers that there seemed to be no degradation in the performance or life of the batteries manufactured with the reclaimed acid versus there standard manufacturing practices using new Sulfuric Acid.

Battery Manufacturers stand to save significant money on not having to purchase new sulfuric acid and avoid treating and disposing of all the liquid waste. This would also benefit the environment.

The only item which seemed to stand in the way of implementing this technology is the potential concern by the battery manufacturers that the quality of the acid in the batteries would be effected. This however has not happened as the test batteries produced with recycled acid have demonstrated and proven to have the same quality.

How many batteries are recycled each year?
How much acid is contained in those batteries?

I guess “change of ways” sometimes comes slower than “change and advancement of technology”.


Mech-Chem Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 473
144 Main St Norfolk, MA 02056
Tele: (508) 528-5990
Fax: (508) 528-8972

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pilot Systems for Acid Applications

Mech-Chem fabricates pilot systems for developing and testing various processes and applications that need to safely handle hazardous acids.

The Pilot System Feature:
Self-contained reactor with sliding cover for easy access
Fume extraction and ventilation system
Chemical feed pumps with controllers
Containment for acid and chemicals
Heavy duty welded polypropylene construction
Polypropylene, PFA, and PVDF piping

Process Development Applications include  the following:
Metal dissolving
Metal extraction
Carbon treatment
Acid Etching/ Pickling
Chemical/ Acid Milling
Chemical manufacturing
Waste/Wastewater Treatment

Mech-Chem Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 473
144 Main St Norfolk, MA 02056
Tele: (508) 528-5990
Fax: (508) 528-8972

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Electrodialysis Lab Test Unit

Mech-Chem offers Electrodialysis lab test units for the testing and verification for the following  application:
Removal of Salt Brine from Water.
Concentration of Metal Salts from Dragout and Rinses for Recycling
to Plating Baths.
Salt Maintenance on
Fume Scrubbing Systems
Electroless Nickel Purifications

Electrodialysis is an electrically driven ion-exchange process which utilizes alternating sequences of cation exchange membranes and anion exchange membranes to effect the separation andconcentration of dissolved salts from various solutions. Selectively permeable ions are transported from one side of a membrane, through the membrane, to the other side of the membrane. These salts are concentrated, collected, and removed from the unit.

With the proper selection and configuration of permselective membranes between a positively charged, inert anode, and a negatively charged cathode, electric deionization is accomplished. Such a configuration of membranes, hydraulic spacers, and electrodes is termed an Electrodialysis stack.
An Electrodialysis system is comprised of an Electrodialysis stack, circulation pumps, solution holding tanks, a power supply, pressure gauges and ancillary controls. Optional controls may also include particulate filters and conductivity control.

Mech-Chem Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 473
144 Main St Norfolk, MA 02056
Tele: (508) 528-5990
Fax: (508) 528-8972

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

AP-300 Acid Recovery System

Mech-Chem Associates, Inc. has refined and improved their AP-300 series Acid Recovery System.
The AP-300 system can process and purify 300/gal/day of spent or waste acid solution. The new design allows the system to be expanded to 600/gal/day and 900/gal/day by the addition of 1 or 2 additional diffusion dialysis membrane stacks.
This membrane technology is used for acid recovery applications such as plating baths, anodizing baths, acid pickling and metal finishing applications.
With new emphasis on cost reduction and green technologies, these membrane systems are also
finding new applications for recovering and purifying spent or waste acid streams in mining applications and battery acid recovery.

Advantages of Acid Recycling
Increase acid bath life
Maintain optimum bath uniformity
Reduce acid purchases
Reduce waste treatment costs
Reduce hazardous waste disposal costs

Front Side View:

Back-Side View:

Mech-Chem Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 473
144 Main St Norfolk, MA 02056
Tele: (508) 528-5990
Fax: (508) 528-8972

Friday, March 23, 2012

Acid Filtration System

Closed filtration system for filtering nitric and sulfuric acids. Filter has passivated metal surface with polypropylene filters coated with diatomaceous earth for removal of fine carbon and metal particles.

The chemical piping is fused Kynar pipe and fittings. The unique feature is that the system can be operated, drained, and rinsed without chemical exposure to the operation personnel.

Mech-Chem Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 473
144 Main St Norfolk, MA 02056
Tele: (508) 528-5990
Fax: (508) 528-8972