2023 is a particularly auspicious year for Hensel Recycling, as the family business based in Aschaffenburg looks back at 25 eventful years and celebrates its anniversary.
The success story started with the collection and dismantling spent automotive catalytic converters. Now, 25 years later, the company is a leading international provider for the recycling of materials containing precious metals. Along with classic automotive catalytic converters, in the meantime, the business’s portfolio also includes oxygen sensors, diesel particulate filters as well as truck and industrial catalytic converters, electronic scrap and, last but not least, fuel cells.
Continuous further development, flexibility, plenty of pioneering spirit as well as sustainable entrepreneurial action are key for long-term success in a market subject to technological trends, extensive statutory regulations as well as volatile precious metal prices.
Every day, more than 220 employees on five continents ensure that valuable precious metals such as platinum, palladium or rhodium are recovered in an environmentally sound manner and, with their efforts, make an important contribution to the continuous protection of strategically important raw materials.
R & D – prepared for the future
Mobility has changed dramatically, particularly in recent years. New drive systems have conquered the market or are currently advancing. In a few years, they will undoubtedly become indispensable on our roads and gradually replace the classic combustion engine and, therefore also, the conventional automotive catalytic converter.
For our business, this means addressing future markets at an early stage, and for this reason, Hensel Recycling is already equipping itself for the future and investing in a variety of research and development projects.
One of these undertakings is the EU-funded project BEST4Hy, which is developing recycling solutions for fuel cells. The goal is to develop a closed material cycle in which the raw materials recovered are then reused in new fuel cell stacks. The three-year project will continue to the end of this year, and the intermediate results are already indicating notable successes.
Recently the company reported about the successful recovery of platinum salt from used stacks; this recovered material is now undergoing testing for use in new fuel cells.
Raw material recovery from electronic waste
However, precious metals are not only used in automotive applications. These valuable raw materials are used particularly in electronic devices and components and must be recovered again efficiently and sustainably at the end of the service life.
For this reason, Hensel Recycling has added a further pillar to its business in this segment and, a few years ago, put into operation a corresponding processing plant. Here all kinds of components – CPUs, RAM or printed circuit boards – can be shredded and prepared for further refining so that the metals can then be used in new devices or components. Hensel Recycling always aims to achieve a maximum recovery quota providing not only significant additional value for customers but also making a sustainable contribution to the protection of our environment.
Focusing on sustainability
Particularly in the last 25 years, the recycling of precious metals has become increasingly important, and in future, it will also play a leading role in the supply of critical raw materials. Not least because availability in mines continues to drop, and the mining of precious metals is becoming increasingly costly.
Conversely, recycling processes are becoming more efficient. Compared to the situation at the outset of recycling, significantly fewer chemicals and less energy are now required to separate the individual elements. Better measuring technology makes possible the specific recovery of metals.
Depending on the metal, recycling is around 75–95 % better for the environment than mining. And if political crises occur in mining countries, supply with secondary raw materials is an important stabilising factor for industrial businesses. At Hensel Recycling alone, compared to mining, around 150,000 tonnes of CO2 are saved per year by recycling platinum group metals.
Sustainability is not wishful thinking but is always part of the corporate philosophy at Hensel Recycling. As a group, we consider ourselves bound by the sustainability goals of the United Nations. As such, the fair utilisation of resources, equitable growth, and participation, as well as a liveable, fair and viable society, are at the focus of our actions. And our clear goal for 2030 is to become climate neutral.
Find out more about Hensel Recycling here