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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Recycling Tungsten From Xenon Lamps

Author Topic: Recycling Tungsten From Xenon Lamps
Rick Cohen
Film Handler

Posts: 87
From: Amherst, New York
Registered: Feb 2011

 - posted 05-15-2019 01:58 PM      Profile for Rick Cohen   Author's Homepage   Email Rick Cohen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was able to get $8.30/lb for 28 lbs of tungsten from 31 6k lamps.

Above is an informative YouTube video I found with a Google search, which demonstrates how to remove all the tungsten from the bulb. Protective eye wear, breathing mask, and leather work gloves are recommended for safety.

The 31 lamps took me about an hour and a half to remove all the tungsten, another half hour for the trip to the scrap yard, so a little better than $115/hr for my trouble.

Definitely call around to different scrap metal dealers, as some pay more than others by a significant amount.

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1614
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 05-15-2019 02:24 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Very interesting. The recycling idea never occurred to me. For the safety
of trash workers & dumpster divers, I smash the bulbs before discarding
them, usually by tossing them (in the box) off of a 2nd floor fire escape
into an alley behind the theater.

Back when I ran carbon arcs, is was very common to save the copper
carbon drippings in a coffee can. It accumulated fast. Once or twice
a year, somebody from The Union would come around to collect the
copper, and the proceeds were donated to charity.(Usually the Will
Rogers Children's Hospital, or the Variety Club Children's Charities)

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6479
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 05-15-2019 09:56 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A hammer, a large screwdriver and a burlap bag is all you really need. (Safety gear is a given, of course.)

Put the lamp in the box but remove the clam shell first. Use the screwdriver to puncture the box until you contact the glass envelope of the lamp. Take the hammer and give the screwdriver a good, sharp rap with the hammer. The lamp will shatter and the glass will be contained in the box.

You can use the hammer to crack the glass away from the metal parts. Don't forget steel is recyclable, too.

If your scrapyard doesn't know what your xenon lamp electrodes are, tell them they are the same as TIG welding electrodes. They are almost the same composition... Powder formed tungsten (a.k.a. "Sintered.") There is a little bit of thorium and some flavor of "secret sauce," depending on the manufacturer.

But, still, they are 90% the same as TIG welder electrodes... which most scrapyards DO accept for recycling. They pay a decent price, too.

The last time I recycled xenon lamps, I got almost $50.00 for a dozen lamps. (Including the steel.)

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