Scrap Inconel Alloy Recycling

  • Sharebar
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 }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: