Aluminum is the second most recycled metal available.
There is a huge market for recyclable aluminum mostly because in its raw state aluminum oxide requires tremendous amounts of energy to break its oxygen bonds and turn it into pure aluminum. On the flipside aluminum scrap is very easy to remelt and turn into new products.
Aluminum cans: These are made from a high purity alloy. Recycling centers are currently paying as much as $.65 per pound for aluminum cans. They take these and magneticly seperate other foreign materials that may be present and bale them. these bales are then sold directly to metal commodity brokers.
Industrial scrap: This includes manufacturing scrap and rejects. This material is worth the most when it is seperated by alloy. The most common industrial alloys are 6061, 2024, 5052, 7075. different alloys are worth different amounts 7075 alloy being the most valuable from the list above.
Turnings: These are the metal chips leftover from machining and sawing operations. Turnings are often worth less money because the material is usually contaminated with cutting oils and other foreign materials.
Post consumer scrap: Most common sources are aluminum furniture, tree bases, cooking pots, siding, gutters, window frames, automobile parts ( transmision housings, alloy wheels, engine pistons, intake manifolds, cylinder heads, engine blocks), and lawn maintenance equipment parts.
Post consumer scrap is probably the hardest to recycle but the easiest to come across. The problem is these materials are usually contaminated with paint, oil, and foreign metals. Most large recyclers will accept post consumer scrap as is but at a reduced rate. For example I have a truckload of old lawn chairs, I've ripped the fabric off of them but there is still steel rivets remaining this material may only sell for $0.20 per pound verses if I remove the rivets It may sell for $.45 per pound.
If you want to setup to process larger amounts of post consumer or commercial aluminum scrap it pays to invest into three key pieces of equipment.
An alloy identifier: This is a small handheld device that samples the material and gives you a digital readout of the alloy is contains. These are fairly expensive but well worth the investment.
A hammermill: This is just what it sounds like there are many configurations of these machines but essentialy it beats the material into small pieces with mechanical hammers. This is also an expensive piece but once you have one in place the man hours it saves is incredible.
last a magetic seperator: This is basicly a conveyor belt system with large magnets under it to pull out any ferrous metals from the material flow.
If you want even further seperation an eddy current seperator can be added. This machine is basicly another conveyor belt with a drum of alternating polarity magnets spining under it. What it does is causes non ferrous metal such as aluminum to literally jump off of the conveyor belt and out of your material stream. This works great for seperating aluminum from plastic.