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Automated scrap metal sorting using laser spectroscopy - AUSOM

Efficient material sorting for recycling is a prerequisite for sustainable material use. In this project, systems for cost-effective sorting of scrap metal are being developed, in collaboration between seven European companies, institutes and universities.

Metals and minerals can in theory be recycled almost indefinitely. By reusing materials, you can save up to 80% energy compared to extracting and remanufacturing the metal. It also minimizes the use of new raw materials and the need for ore mining. In practice, however, there are many challenges with metal recycling, one such challenge is efficient sorting of the metal to be recycled.

Efficient scrap metal sorting with the help of lasers

This project develops a robust and cost-effective sorting technology for scrap metal. A laser-based sensor system measures what material the scrap piece contains and the system sorts the metal into the correct compartment.

The laser system is called LIBS, a well-established method for analyzing the chemical content of materials. In LIBS (laser induced breakdown spectroscopy), a high-energy laser pulse is fired at the material to be analyzed. This creates a local plasma where the content of the material can be identified spectroscopically.

Unlike other analysis techniques, such as XRF, LIBS can also identify the lighter alloying elements in steel, such as Si, Al and Mg. A LIBS-based system can therefore be used to sort scrap with better precision than if you use other measurement techniques.

A European consortium

The AUSOM project is developing a LIBS-based analysis system that enables cost-effective and improved sorting of scrap metal in recycling facilities. The sorting system to be demonstrated can contribute to:

  • Environment and circularity: Less use of virgin material and the production of secondary raw materials of higher value.
  • Social aspects: Better working conditions through reduced need for manual sorting.
  • Economic and strategic benefits: Better access to high-quality secondary raw materials for European industry, less dependence on critical raw materials and associated import dependence.


This activity has received funding from EIT RawMaterials, initiated and funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, under the Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.


Project name

Automated srap metal sorting - AUSOM



RISE role in project

Optics and LIBS development

Project start


3 years


Spectral Industries, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, LTU Business, Group Galloo Recycling, Redwave, Swerim

Project website


Project members

Supports the UN sustainability goals

9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
12. Responsible consumption and production

Contact person

Carola Sterner


+46 10 228 41 27

Read more about Carola

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