Scrap is an important source of copper. Of the total consumption of copper in the western world 1993, 12 473 000 t, the scrap content was 4 697 000 t or 38%. This is much more than the production of the largest copper mine. The use of scrap has long traditions. The metal can, with a fracture of the energy used for the original production, be refined to high purity.
Heat exchangers in scrapped cars are in many cases removed together with other valuable parts before the shredding operation. Copper is also separated during the treatment of the shredded car. It is important to avoid mixture of copper and steel. Today standard copper/brass radiator joined with lead/tin solder can be used for production of lead containing casting or extrusion ingots. If the metal is too mixed up a new refining can be done which gives as result pure metals.
Lead free copper/brass radiators are likely to be used more and more. Soft solder based on tin alloyed with copper, silver, antimony is one option. Another and more advanced is brazing using a CuNiSnP-alloy. Both these types of heat exchangers can go back to the melting shop for production of new tube strip. This will be a case where real recycling back into the same product is possible.