About Me

Learning More About Technology

When I realized that I wanted to go back to school, I stopped to think about what I would need to do. It had been years since I cracked open a textbook, much less learned something new on a computer. However, I wanted to succeed, so I started to learn more about technology. I spent hours brushing up on my computer troubleshooting skills and when I was done, I felt a little more prepared. After I started school, I learned even more. I made this blog to teach other people a little about technology, so that you can keep up with your peers.



Learning More About Technology

What's Worth Recycling In Computer Systems?

by Alyssa Bates

Whether you're getting rid of a desktop, laptop, server, or even mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, there are some recyclable materials that can put a bit of extra cash in your pocket. Throwing computers away with the general garbage can poison your local area's plants and animals through soil and water contamination, and it's just plain illegal in most states, so you should recycle your computer parts instead of throwing them away. To avoid moral and/or legal problems while making some money back for a past investment--or to get involved with making money through scrapping--check out these recyclable materials inside computers.

Aluminum Sources Inside Most Computers

Aluminum is probably the first recyclable metal you'll run into when working with computers. Desktops and especially laptops may have a plastic-like shell on the outside for design purposes, but the underlying framework is usually made out of aluminum. The main exception would be ruggedized computers made of steel for hazardous conditions such as industrial workspaces or field use.

The case is an aluminum frame covered by aluminum panels, usually secured with screws or button-controlled locks. The inner framework can be held together with screws, but it may have rivets or locking metal tabs in the more quickly assembled systems. Destroying the case for melting or smaller storage isn't recommended if you're able to simply remove other computer components and stack the cases intact.

Multiple components inside the computer, such as the hard drives and disc drives, are covered in aluminum cases as well. These can be removed and stacked, but some components such as the hard drive can be taken apart of other materials inside.

One major aluminum component to keep an eye on is the heat sink, which is usually a solid block with thin, metal fins. Some heat sinks are made of copper or a mixture of aluminum and copper, especially as scrap metals in general become cheaper.

Until a new movement in computer design adopts copper heat sinks, you'll more likely only find copper heat sinks in customer computers. Laptops are the exception, as it's more common for heat sinks and heat transfer pipes to be made out of copper due to their superior heat transfer and the need to do as much as possible with a limited amount of space.

Rare Earth Magnets, Magnetic Coils, And Other Small Treasures

Not all recyclable materials are found at the surface area of computers. Many components contain magnets for either electromagnetic processes, or to act as strong binding tools instead of screws.

Hard drives specifically use rare earth magnets to keep the voice coil arms in place. These magnets are sought after by hobbyists for resale prices rather than a flat recycling rate, so you may want to remove these magnets when recycling other computer components.

Keep in mind that although some people use the term hard drive to mean all computer storage, Solid State Drives (SSD) are a completely different technology and do not have the magnets inside. In fact, solid state drive design uses very little metal, making them an environmental positive point in modern computers--but almost useless to scrappers. Add them to a general recycling pile.

Computer power supplies have a cluster of copper and aluminum in the core, but be careful. Recently-used power supplies will still hold a dangerous amount of electricity in the capacitors, so a power supply should never be opened unless you are a trained electrician and can discharge the power supply safely.

For more information and help with recycling your computer, contact an electronic waste company, such as iGlobal Services Inc..