Dutch Student Invents Solar-Powered Smelting Machine with a Giant Magnifying Glass

A fantastic invention with the potential for some exciting scrap metal recycling applications was presented at Northern Europe’s largest design event, Dutch Design Week, this October. This year’s theme was ‘Get Set’, with a focus on products that foster change through innovation.

This was in no doubt achieved by graduate student Jelle Seegers who showcased his incredible and fascinating Solar Metal Smelter as part of the Design Academy Eindhoven student show. His smelting process provides a far more sustainable alternative to traditional methods, all of which rely on fuel to generate an industrial furnace.

Seegers’ award-winning design features a huge polycarbonate lens that acts like an enormous magnifying glass, focusing the sun’s heat enough to melt metal within a crucible. The liquid metal can then be cast using a sand mould to create new products. With sustainability at the heart of the project, Seegers even used recycled stainless steel to form the frame for his smelting machine.

By opting for a giant magnifying glass to direct the sun’s heat rather than converting the solar power to electricity using a panel, Seegers found that he could increase efficiency from 20% to 95%. With the ever-increasing cost of energy and the growing need to reduce carbon emissions, this new smelting solution could be a game changer in the metal recycling industry, particularly useful for metal casting companies looking to reduce energy costs.

Seegers’ current design produces four kilowatts of energy which can generate temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Celsius, enough to melt 20kg of zinc or 5kg of aluminium. The smelting machine has to be manually adjusted several times over an hour to account for the sun’s movements, but this process could be automated in the future – and Seegers already has plans to produce a larger machine for industrial applications.

Much needed innovations like these have the potential to transform the metal recycling industry, improving sustainability and reducing energy costs. Only by revolutionising our global metal recycling process can we move towards the circular economies needed to tackle the climate crisis.

At Singleton’s Scrap Yard in Manchester, we play our role in the global metal recycling industry by trading and evaluating scrap metal before sending it off to be smelted. One of the fantastic things about the growing demand for recycled metals is that we can offer excellent prices for scrap metal. After you’ve sold it to us, your scrap will then get sent off to be recycled so it can be reused – a win for you and a win for the environment!

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