Scrap Inconel Alloy Recycling

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If you’ve been reading Scrapping Metal for more then a few month, you already know I have a thing for specialty alloys, and it shouldn’t surprise you that this post is all about Scrap Inconel!
  1. What is Inconel?
    Inconel is a brand name given to a large group of nickel-chromium super-alloys, created by Special Metals Co. These metals enjoy the job descriptions that often involve the most corrosion-filled, temperature-extreme tasks imaginable; were talking about environments that are way too degrading for stainless steel to hold up in. 

    Because Inconel is made up of mostly Nickel and Chromium, it is fairly dense; about as dense/heavy as copper.  But of course, its worth much more then Copper.

    The composition of Inconel depends on alloy, and is what makes it so valuable. Nickel can make up anywhere from 25% to 75% of an Inconel alloy depending on series and nickel is worth 3 times as much as copper. Depending on the specialty metals that are added in, you could be looking at an alloy worth up to $10 per pound.

    Inconel, depending on the alloy, can have expensive metals like molybdenum or niobium added depending on the desired characteristics. Special Metals Co.  has a very detailed list and description of the over 45 different types of Inconel in production.

  2. How Much is Scrap Inconel Worth?As the old adage goes, “Something is only worth what others will pay…” I will emphasize that you need to find a well establish buyer before selling! Some scrap yards these days are still having a hard time paying for decent prices for shred steel or electric motors, let alone super-alloy! (Also, keep in mind the power of selling scrap on eBay)But, that being said, the prices of scrap Inconel should be somewhere between $3-$8 per pound depending on alloy and the scrap yard. The Inconel 6xx series is the most expensive, pulling in around $4.50-9 per pound as of april 2011, the Inconel 7xx series is about $3.50-$5.60 per pound as of april 2011, and 8xx and 9xx series Inconel will be $2-$5 per pound (these have the least nickel content).  There are many different types of alloys on the market, but those are the most commonly seen.As a scrapper, it will be very difficult for you to know much of anything about the different types of Inconel. The best, and most reliable, way to get an ID on your alloy of Inconel scrap is with a XRF hand analyzing gun, which leads me to my next point…
  3. How To Identify Scrap Inconel?You’re most likely not going to find some scrap Inconel just sitting around! But even if you were, would you know what to look for if you did? We can’t all afford xrf analyzers, so what can we do to identify Inconel?Inconel can be mis-identified as a non-magnetic stainless steel if you are too quick in sorting. But if you perform the spark test you will quickly distinguish the two. Inconel has small, thin, and red sparks as opposed to the brighter longer bursting sparks off of stainless.The most common Inconel alloys are all non-magnetic (but there are some exceptions, unfortunatly).

    A good rule of thumb for those who think they have a super expensive alloy… Make your yard test it! If a piece of steel looks funnier, and is heavier, then I make my yard test it! Call around to a few yards to ask them what they buy, or if they will test a metal sample for you. Any yard that cares about customer service will be glad to test something for you (XRF testing, that is).

  4. Where Can You Find Inconel?
    Well, it will take experience, a keen eye, and skill. You need to look in the right places! Inconel isn’t used just anywhere… It is a very expensive super-alloy, and is used in all sorts of applications involving high temperature, non-magnetic alloys. This means things like turbines, jet engines, industrial furnaces, ect. If it requires high temp manifolds and exchangers, or corrosive and chemical applications, you could possibly be dealing with Inconel. High end cars can have inconel exaust pipes and systems, heaters, heat shields, aircraft/spacecraft/planes, welding electrodes, Thermocouples, ect/
Good Luck Scrapping!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

hi ive got to repair a exhaust manifold and its possible it could be inconel or stainless,how can i tell what it is,any help please

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Demonwolfe August 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Seing this on inconel, have you ever heard of a type of alloy called monel, it also looks like stainless steel. The only place I have ever seen it is in the oilfield, on submersible pump wells, they use it as metal straps to hold the elecric cable tightly to the joints of tubing to keep it from sliding down the hole, had about 35 lbs. of it, but only got stainless price for it which was 50 cents a pound

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ScrapMetalJunkie August 16, 2011 at 5:36 pm

You should have been paid more then 50¢ per pound. Monel is mostly 70% nickel and 20% copper, and nickel is worth almost 3x as much as copper, so you can imagine that people will often pay over $4 per pound for it!

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Demonwolfe August 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Yeah, 50 cents a pound wasnt very good for it, but trying to argue with a guy that 60 + years old when its 110 outside and he just helped unload everything just didnt sound like a good idea, plus most people either play stupid, or they just actually dont know about these special alloys. Got a better price there than I wuld have here in Russell Ks, probably 10 or 15 cents a pound more!

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Brian Flogaus September 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I have a high pressure turbine disc from an engine of 1982 Cessna Citation Jet……….I used to manage many aircraft and when it came time this disc had to be replaced due to the number of cycles it had on it. The engine manufacturer said it is a “super alloy”, however I have no idea if if can be recycled or if it has any scrap value. It weighs about 20 pounds. Please advise

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm

It definitely can be recycled. My guess is that it is worth at at least $75 (or much more). There is no doubt in my mind that it is a super alloy. It may not be inconel. It could be a number of other alloys.

The first suggestion I have for you is to have a scrap metal recycling yard test it to see what type of metal it is. Call around to different scrap yards to see if they have a handheld XRF analyzer, or any other type of on site advanced spectrometry analyzer. These machines can instantly test the alloy metal used in the jet turbine. They may offer to buy the metal for a certain price after you have them test it; if you are unhappy with the price, you do not need to sell it to them.

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Paul Rhodes December 10, 2011 at 12:26 am

I have started a diesel egine repair service, and the valves that are removed from used heads are made with inconel. Could you tell me what it would be worth, and where could i recylce it. thanks

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ScrapMetalJunkie December 12, 2011 at 7:35 am

You should call up your local scrap yard/metal recycling center. They will offer you a price. Then call another scrap yard in your area and see what they offer. It could be worth anywhere from $2.50-$7 per pound or more.

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