A group of researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a unique method of recycling aluminum thanks to a small accident: they introduced a bacon sandwich in the microwave for too long and the bacon became a pile of coal through a process called pyrolysis.
Now the researchers, who then raised that this process could easily separate metals, they manage the first experimental microwave-based recycling plant in Cambridge. The starting material for recycling is plastic and laminated aluminum such as that found, for example, in toothpaste tubes, which is very difficult to separate for recycling.
In this way, they are able to separate the aluminum from the rest of the components in just two minutes, introducing a mixture of carbon particles and pieces of the laminated plastic-aluminum in the conventional microwave and injecting nitrogen to extract the air. Two minutes later, at 600 ° C, the mixture has become pure aluminum shavings, and hydrocarbons that can be refined to make fuel.
Aluminum was also one of the rarest metals for humans in most of its history. Until the 19th century, in fact, because of its shortage, it was considered the most valuable metal in the world. You can read more about it in Natural resources are finite, but human ingenuity is not so much: getting where there is none.