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Using the CrazyCrusher to crush and recycle computer CPU chips

picture of crushed CPU chips

Crushing and recycling computer CPU chips with the CrazyCrusher presents a different type of medium. With Rocks, the pieces are jagged or rough, and the jaws catch and break rock readily. Crushing glass, although "smooth", broken bottles being crushed are still irregular shaped and again, crush very easy. Computer CPU chips on the other hand are of a hard ceramic material, and smooth on one side, not giving much for the jaws to grab on to, but it still works!

I did some testing, after I was asked by some if it would crush CPU's. You can place a single chip, or a handful. I have found that 6 to 10 work well, and you may need to add new chips as your progress to help the pieces of ceramic move down to the lower grinding part of the jaws.

You can start with the jaws either full open, or full closed. Fully open, you can put more chips in at a time, as they will crush against each other. You do need to start with the handle in the down position, and only raise it up an inch or so from the bottom position. Higher than that you run the risk of it plugging up, for lack of a better word. Since the CrazyCrusher is designed to be both a crusher, and a grinder, the higher the handle, the more "forward and backward" motion you will have. Starting in the down position, and only raising the handle an inch or so will give you more of an "up and down" motion, and this is what is needed to crush down the CPU's.

The initial first couple of strokes will flatten out the gold pins to the chip, then it will begin to break the chips. It takes several passes to reduce the chips to a fine enough medium in order to liberate the gold pins.

The way I did it was I opened the jaws fully, then put in several CPU's, and worked the handle until everything passed through. I then dumped it through a screen into a container, and what did not go through the screen went back into the crusher, after I made a 2-turn adjustment on the adjustable jaw. I kept repeating this process until everything or most everything went through the screen. I do not know what the mesh is, but it's fine enough to have liberated all the gold pins.

I found there was no need to remove the gold plated plates off of the CPUs due to the fact that they will come off in the crushing operation, and pass through prior to getting to the grinding operation, and were easily picked out.

Processing the gold pins, pieces of plated gold, etc.

There are several ways to do it, but it is not within the scope of this to give instruction, but only to point you in a direction you may want to go.

If you think you can "pan" it down, you may want to forget it! The gold is light weight compared to the ground up ceramic material. As a matter of fact, some of it will actually float, and you need to use "gold drops" or other suitable solution like JetDry, to break up the water surface tension. If the pins have a core that is not made of gold, you will need to collect the pins and soak them in some nitric acid to disolve the core and leave the gold. Once you have enough pins you can melt them into a lump for later refining as well.

One method used is cyanide to dissolve the gold and then filter the solution, and drop the gold out with zinc. Yeah, it's dangerous, and unless you know what your are doing, you should not try it. There are products on eBay people sell that is supposed to be safer, but I have not tried them.

Another method is to dissolve the gold with Aqua Regia, a mixture of 1 part nitric acid to 3 parts hydrochloric acid. This will also dissolve the gold.

Then there is mercury. Mercury will collect up the gold particles, pins, pieces of plating, etc. Cleaning the gold first, by running it in a tumbler with some vinegar and some salt will clean the gold and make it easier for the mercury to collect the gold It is best to run it in a rubber walled rock tumbler. Using the mercury method, once the gold is all gathered from the ceramic sand, you then need to deal with the mercury. In the old days, they were not as knowledgeable about mercury poisoning. They would scoop out a potato, put the stiff mercury in it, then wire it shut and bake it on an open fire, thinking the mercury will evaporate into the flesh of the potato and leave the gold in the center of the spud.

Today, you would have two choices, retort it, or dissolve it. Retort means buying one, for around $120 to $150 for a small one. An alternative is a neat pipe retort, you can check out youtube for "pipe method retort" and you will find a series of 4 videos showing how to use it, make it at home, I did.

Without the retort, you can dissolve the mercury blob in nitric acid. After all the mercury goes in to solution, the sludge at the bottom is gold, and you only need to filter and wash it off. You can reclaim the mercury from the solution by using copper strips.

But, now you have gold "sludge", and it needs to be smelted or refined, which is a whole new ballgame, again, far from the scope of this article dealing with the crushing of CPU's with the CrazyCrusher. (Did I mention that the CrazyCrusher works great to grind glass down for smelting operations?) However, it matters not if you are recycling gold from CPU's or crushing down some high grade gold or silver ore, you STILL have to process it! With silver ore, you probably will not see any "free" silver in the pan, that again is something you have to learn to do, chemically testing the ore for values, and to process those values.

But it's all fun!