How are electromagnets used in recycling plants?

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Electromagnets are magnets that can be turned off and on by controlling the flow of electricity. In other words, when we switch on the electricity supply, they become magnets; when we switch off the supply, they are no longer magnets. They are used to segregate the waste into magnetic and...

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Electromagnets are magnets that can be turned off and on by controlling the flow of electricity. In other words, when we switch on the electricity supply, they become magnets; when we switch off the supply, they are no longer magnets. They are used to segregate the waste into magnetic and non-magnetic wastes, at a recycling facility. The recycling plants receive all types of wastes and their job would be easier if we can segregate the waste into various categories, such as, metals, plastic, glass, biodegradable, etc. Once the waste is segregated, it is easier to recycle it, depending on the waste characteristics (say, biodegradable waste to composting unit or anaerobic digester, etc.). An electromagnet can be advantageously used by bringing it over the waste and switching on the electricity supply (which will make it a magnet). At that instant, all the magnetic material will be attracted to it and will attach to it. The electromagnet can then be taken to another location, where we want the magnetic material to be collected, and switch off the flow of electricity. The magnetic material will fall to the ground (or the heap of magnetic materials) and the clean electromagnet can again get back to the mixed waste location. 

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