Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turning a bad thing into a good...

Just a few years ago, we all desired the biggest, brightest, high resolution CRT monitor money could buy. While they consumed most of our desk top, we covered them in post-it notes and learned the exact spot on the side to 'whack' when the picture wasn't quite right...

Then along came the CRT's greatest nemesis, the LCD flat screen. Suddenly, perfectly good working CRT monitors found themselves gathering dust in some forgotten part of the basement. Then there were more. And more. You get the picture (no pun intended) right?

In the 9 years we have been recycling electronics, we have seen the surplus monitor problem go from bad to extremely bad. In fact, you might be shocked to know how many of these have been made their way to the landfills already. Plus there are a LOT more in hiding.

So what's the solution? A dismantling facility just for computer monitors and television sets. In assembly line fashion the units are taken apart with plastic, boards, wire, steel and CRT tube all separated for recycling. There is not much scrap value- maybe a couple of bucks at best for the wire, steel and pc boards. The CRT tube has no scrap value. In fact it must be sent to an approved smelting facility to properly extract the silica glass and lead. Cost to do this averages around $2 for each CRT plus shipping, which adds an additional couple of dollars. Did I mention that you also need to pay your employees to take them apart?

As you can see the proper disposal of a CRT monitor or TV set is not just hazardous but expensive. Most legitimate recyclers charge around .35 cents per pound to process them which equates to about $10 for your average monitor. All things considered, its not a bad price to pay to keep them out of the landfills!

The Gold Rush-more ways to cash in?

Late night TV is littered with commercials encouraging you to trade your unwanted gold for cash, which I find a little amusing. First, I don't completely trust my $400 worth of gold to the US Postal Service- plus the price paid must certainly be a wholesale price...

In the electronics recycling business we are constantly searching for this precious metal in many forms as shown in the pic. Usually we sell the gold left on the part as  you see here; with gold prices high, you still make pretty good money doing it this way. However, most profitable way to sell the gold would be to remove it from the part, melt it down and sell it in it's purest form.

I toyed with doing this a few years ago and found that there are some serious tradeoffs in terms of safety and complexity. Gold is held in place one of two ways on the parts- it is either plated on another metal surface, or it is glued on a plastic or fiberglass (pc board) surface.  Before we go any further take note that removing gold in either case requires the use of some caustic chemicals. These chemicals cannot always be simply shipped to you without a permit and the local EPA might come snooping around to make sure you properly dispose of the chemicals when you're done with them.

With that said, you still stand to make more money from gold if you remove it from the part. Its a matter of setting up a properly ventilated facility, getting the proper equipment and alas, permits.

There is no question in my mind that that a gold refining operation will greatly boost your bottom line. We purchased needed chemicals and supplies from Shore International in New York and also found their web site to be chock full of needed information. Please read their Precious Metal Recovery pages completely before getting started. You 'll be glad you did!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Electric Cars - The Future is Now?

I continue to have mixed emotions about electric cars-hybrids are too expensive and conversions don't get the miles per watt I would need. My daily commute is 48 miles one way, so gas seems to be the safest bet since most 'affordable' electric car conversions struggle to make it to the 50 mile-per-charge mark. While I keep saving for my future electron powered cruiser, I occasionally find something like the video below that totally intrigues me. It showcases a 1972 Datsun (remember before Nissan?) coupe electric conversion. A plain jane ride with the exception of a trade of gas tank for batteries; gas engine for an electric motor; dash gauges replaced with volt and amp meters....

SO? This vintage hobby car is a destroyer at the drag strip. Corvettes, Porsches and nitrous boosted street racers are no match for this inconspicuous import. Check it out:

That's just neat. My interest in the electrics is renewed and of course I start thinking about how I could do this with, uh, yes, recycled batteries and motors (dream cloud)...and SHAZAM! I stumbled across this video:

Ok, I'm off to the junkyard to find the perfect ride for my electric conversion. Convertible Fiat? Covair? Maybe I'll keep it simple and find a nice '71 Ford Pinto. With the gas tank removed it should be safe.