Spark Plug Recycling Problem Solved

Aug 1, 2023 | Toolbox

New high-speed automated robotic processing of spent spark plus recovers precious metals.

By Edmund Schwenk

Why have spark plugs not been recycled?

For years used spark plugs have been sent in with steel scrap for recycling or simply tossed in the trash. Prices paid have always been dependent upon scrap steel pricing. Any precious metal content has been lost to the steel-making process.

Why has the Iridium – Platinum not been recovered?

Early attempts have been too labor intensive for economic recovery.  Recently mechanical processes have been applied such as shredding but with no success at separation of the valuable metals.

We are happy to announce that PGM Recovery Systems has been awarded a U.S. Patent for high-speed automated robotic processing of spent spark plugs to recover their precious metal bearing electrodes. Three years of engineering development has brought about this milestone to the industry. Now you can get paid for your bulk quantities of used spark plugs at prices that are worthy of promoting this enterprise.

Why do we need to recycle Iridium?

Why now more than ever?

Iridium is one of the scarcest elements on the earth with a low occurrence of only 0.000003 parts per million in the earth’s crust. It is a very hard, brittle, and dense metal that belongs to the platinum group. Its mechanical properties are perfect to survive the environment in today’s high temperature gasoline burning engines.  These higher temperatures and pressures are required to achieve lower emissions standards at the tailpipe.

By 2030 demand for Iridium for the manufacture of PEMs is projected to require 12 metric tons. If we as an industry collect and recycle this material, we will make a great contribution to the current deficit.

The crucial role of Iridium now, in particular, is to supply enough to support scale-up of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers to produce green hydrogen  This will put the world on a path toward a lower green-house gas emissions footprint.

The demand for Iridium is high. It is estimated that between 7.5-8.3 metric tons are mined annually. Manufacturing of spark plugs consumes 1.5 metric tons each year and has not been recycled at “end of life.” By 2030 demand for Iridium for the manufacture of PEMs is projected to require 12 metric tons. If we as an industry collect and recycle this material, we will make a great contribution to the current deficit.

What do I need to do? How does my company benefit from recycling these spark plugs?

In the past you have received very little renumeration for this scrap item. Now that has changed, and you can get paid appropriately. All that is needed is to collect bulk. We are now accepting bulk lots of Iridium – Platinum spark plugs, LTL or TL shipments. No copper or partial-broken plugs accepted (whole plugs only), and no trash or deductions will apply. We are harvesting the electrodes (center and side) for their precious metal value. Electrodes need to be intact.

Edmund Schwenk has been engaged in the processing/refining/manufacturing of precious metals for over 30 years. Early on, he received training in a laboratory setting as an assayer utilizing classical fire assay, crucible fusion, and cupellation techniques. This coupled with in plant manufacturing process experiences led to advancement as Senior Vice President in charge of precious metals refinery operations for Pure Metals Corporation, directing the fabrication of high purity precious metals products sputtering targets for multiple defense contractors and government testing laboratories. Ed’s unique experience has benefited noble6 through the development of two disruptor technologies for use in the auto catalyst recycling sector.  Visit noble6’s website at or call 619-427-8540 for more information.

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