How are your cats refined? Things you should know.
One way, assay. This is what we preach at United Catalyst Corporation. There is one way to recycle a scrap catalytic converter. It must be de-canned, milled, sampled, assayed, smelted, and refined. This process may sound simple at first glance, but do not be fooled, to be paid accurately each step must be done right.
First, you are paid on the test results of a collected sample. The sample must represent all your cats.
Many recyclers do not realize this. Since you are paid based on the test results of a collected sample, two things must be true. The sample must be collected correctly, and it must be tested accurately following precise sampling and assaying methodology.
To be collected correctly, the sample must be representative of all the converters (and the dust) in your converter lot. It must be reproducible. And it must be defensible.
The sample must be reproducible and defensible.
For the sample of your converters to be reproducible and defensible, the primary batch and the sample must remain intact. Batch means your converter material stays together throughout the entire process of destruction, particle size reduction, blending, sampling, and testing.
How can you process small lots of 100 converters? Are my converters co-mingled?
As a converter processor of large and small lots, we get asked these questions a lot.
Converter processors are set up two ways: batch and continuous.
At United Catalyst, we are set up for batch processing. When we process your converters your material is kept together, and all weights are mass balanced. The sample goes through our laboratory for quality control first. Then your sample and material are sent for assaying, smelting, and refining. Your converter lot gets its own independent and verified assay no matter the size.
Some companies that have historically purchased converters by the unit, may have continuous processing. This means that one lot after another goes through particle size reduction, a sample is collected, and the next lot is processed, sample is collected, and on and on it goes. In this case, if something goes wrong during sampling, the lot cannot be reproduced, and the sample is not defensible.
Second, the assay results are only as good as the sample.
If the sample has been collected correctly and all your cats have been destroyed, blended, and are represented in your sample, you are well on your way to being paid for all the metal contained in them.
Do I need to process high-grade and low-grade converters separately for the best results?
The short answer. If your sample was collected correctly, it does not matter how you combine the converters for processing. All the metal will be represented in the sample and the assay and will be paid for. If the sample was not collected correctly, then it matters a great deal. This could be where tricks abound, more low-grade represented than high-grade. Unless you need to know how a specific material runs, keep it separate, otherwise, combine.
A partner you can trust.
Selling converters on assay is the way to go. It is the only way to ensure that you get paid the most from your converters with a process you can trust. However, it is still your responsibility to educate yourself and make sure the processor you choose is doing what they say they are doing and following the rules of assay. This is why we write these articles. We want you to sell on assay. We want you to work with United Catalyst. But more than anything, we want you to get the most and avoid being cheated. You buy the car. You own the converter. The lion’s share of its value is yours.
If you have questions about this article or any issue pertaining to catalytic converter recycling, our team is here to assist you. Recycling converters on assay is a journey. We hope you will rely on us at United Catalyst as your guide.
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Becky Berube serves the recycling community as President of United Catalyst Corporation, Co-Chair of the Automotive Recycling Association’s Events Advisory Committee, and is an ExCom Board Member of the International Precious Metals Institute. She can be reached at 864-834-2003 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.