Physics
Electromagnetic Radiation
Magnetism

How does a scrap heap magnet work?

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May 01, 2015 7:40PM

Scrap heap magnets are basically electromagnets. Electromagnets are magnets that can be turned off and on. When they are turned on, the circuit inside them, (which normally consists of a battery, a switch, coiled wire and an iron rod) switches on. The iron rod inside the coils of wire is magnetized once the switch can be on or off. Mechanically an electromagnet is relatively simple. As soon as you apply a small electric current it becomes magnetized. The copper wire produces a magnetic field around the core just like any other magnet. The advantage is that it can be turned on or off.

The only magnetic elements are iron, cobalt and nickel. This means that electromagnets can only attract those metals. They can also attract steel. This is because it is mainly made of iron. This is useful because it helps sort the metals into allocated locations. However they cannot pick up paper, wood or any other metal that is not magnetic, or made out of iron, cobalt and nickel.

Scrap Heap magnets work by a very simple but effective circuit board which is in them. The circuit board includes:

- A switch (To turn the electromagnet on/off)

- A battery (To power the electromagnet so there is a current flowing through it)

- A iron rod (This is the component that is magnetized.)

- Coiled wire around the rod (the current)

When a scrap heap magnet is turned on by the switch, the iron core is magnetized because of the current flowing though it due to the coiled wire and battery. This makes it magnetized and it is able to pick up any metals that are magnets and its able to place them in their designated areas in the scrap heaps.