Mitch Coppock and recycled aluminium ready for smelting

Transgrid has adopted a new, Australian-first technology to cut emissions by up to 90 per cent and deliver millions in savings by streamlining the recycling of old transmission lines.

Transgrid has partnered with German manufacturing firm ZECK, to deploy their ZECK Al/Steel Separator (ZAS) to recycle conductors in Western Sydney.

Executive General Manager for Delivery, Craig Stallan, said, “As a business, Transgrid is committed to embedding sustainability in all our activities and this project is just one of the ways we are working to identify and reduce our own environmental impact.”

Conductors are fed into the ZAS machine under tension and the outer aluminium layer is removed and cut into 30-70mm pieces which are collected into large bags ready to be smelted into new products. The undamaged steel core is wound onto a cable drum at the other end, ready for recycling.

Transgrid Field Coordinator, Mitch Coppock, based in Newcastle, pitched the idea to Transgrid to use the system.

“Something like that hasn’t been done in Australia before and being part of this initiative is exciting,” Mr Coppock said.

“Anything innovative we can do is very important in our industry, especially anything that can have good long-term effects on the environment and the environmental impacts this saves are huge.

Previously, used conductors had to be shipped overseas to have their outer aluminium layer removed to enable the entire line to be recycled. However, the ZAS system allows it to be done onsite. By using this technology, Transgrid can cut up to 90 per cent of emissions involved in recycling conductors.

“Everyone wins out of this solution. For Transgrid, we can get a much higher return on the conductor as compared to current processes, the environment wins with reduced emissions and local businesses benefit too as they get readily available and processed aluminium,” Mr Coppock said.

“By taking out that overseas shipping we also guarantee the quality of labour that is used to process it, making it a more transparent and ethical process.”

By eliminating the cost of offshore processing, Transgrid can achieve a return of three times on scrap metal rates of up to three dollars per kilogram.

Over the next three to five years, it’s forecast to deliver upwards of two to three million dollars in extra revenue from recycling.

“The trial has been successful so far. In under two weeks, we’ve run about 40km of conductors through the machine, yielding about one kilogram of aluminium per metre of conductor,” Mr Coppock said.

“For it to start with a simple idea and to receive the support from the business to make it happen and see it come to fruition it’s really rewarding.

“It just goes to show that Transgrid is always open to innovation and new ideas that will benefit how we operate.”

Feature image: Mitch Coppock and recycled aluminium ready for smelting. Provided by Transgrid.

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