Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

 CTBUH Researchers Meet ACME,
 Uncover Cost of Steel Recycling Process

July 9, 2013

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See more about the CTBUH research division
CHICAGO - The CTBUH research team made a short trip to visit ACME Refining, where researchers met William Kramer, Demolition and Wrecking Specialist, to collect more information regarding the energy involved in steel scrap and the processes employed in the scrap facility’s inputs and outputs. The purpose of this meeting was to gather cost and transportation information on scrap steel, in order to obtain an accurate set of data for a comprehensive and in-depth Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The information collected from this meeting will play a crucial role in the Life Cycle Assessment of Tall Building Structural Systems research project funded by ArcelorMittal.
After describing the project to Mr. Kramer in detail, the CTBUH research team shared their perspective and results of their research to date on the processing of scrap metals. Mr. Kramer mentioned that ACME had been around for 40 years and he had yet to see a tall building demolished, although he’s seen the demolition of many larger buildings that weren’t tall, but wide. Much of ACME’s focus is on industrial manufacturing, but a small fraction of its work is in the demolition, removal and recycling of obsolete steel. ACME conducts much of its business in the Midwest, though some scrap customers are as far away as the Ohio Valley.
CTBUH at ACME Scrap Yard. Left to Right: Afshin Zahraee, Dr. Dario Trabucco, William Kramer, Meysam Tabibzadeh
After providing some information on scrap steel and ACME Refining, Kramer addressed questions about the process of scrap steel separation, sorting, transport, and energy consumption of machinery, as well as methods for dealing with acquired steel that carries an unwanted residue.
Process of shearing steel to the size required for shredding or shipment Processed material in bins ready for reuse
The bulk of ACME’s processing operation involves shearing steel down to 5-ft (1.5-m) pieces. The steel is then sent back out to the customer, to either be melted or shredded by the next company down the line.
After the meeting, Kramer showed the CTBUH research team the scrap yard in order to see the machinery at work. A crane was scooping steel pieces out of a large pile, while a shearer cut the larger pieces of scrap steel to a more manageable size. A third machine lifted the scrap, roughly cut by the shearer, and placed it in a portable shearer for more accurately-sized scraps that would then be sent out. Most of the steel is in and out of the yard within a week, according to Kramer.

Kramer was very helpful in answering the CTBUH researchers’ questions and carefully detailed the steps that comprise the process of steel recycling and reuse. The information garnered will bring greater precision to the overall LCA project and study.
1,000-pound (454-kilogram) scrap steel piles/boxes ready to be shipped