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Mercury relays? (UPDATED: Pics post #20)

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    newattitude started this thread.
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    Mercury relays? (UPDATED: Pics post #20)

    I saw Mario has conditions on removing these relays now before sending in e-Waste. even after googling I'm still not sure what I'm looking for specifically. the one pic I did find showed small square items but have no clear line of vision on them. Are these things on motherboards and boards that come out of printers, microwaves and tv's?

    if so, can someone post a pic or two?

    Last edited by newattitude; 01-04-2016 at 07:48 AM.
    Scrapper, Scrap Yard Worker, Horse farm worker, Cooler Puller and just plain ''tired''

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    I saw that too, so I googled it and found they are mostly on automobile boards. They are not on any of the boards you mention.

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    I have a lot of boards with relays, but I have no idea how to know if they are mercury or not. I look forward to anyone posting pics and identification details...

    I have a lot of relays that look like this:



    ...and I think they are not mercury... ?
    ~You have to start somewhere to get anywhere~

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    newattitude started this thread.
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    Hey ScrappinRed! Yeah, those are copper, no mercury. the pics I did find were so small it was hard to tell. they were square what I could see but then again, all the little doo-dads on a board all look the same to me lol!

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    Please email us for some photo samples. I can't seem to post anything on here?
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    I have found Mercury relays in Heating equipment thermostats, this was the unit that was screwed to the outside wall of a community Hall. (So it was old and semi industrial setting).

    In the electrical cabinets of some industrial equipment. I have no idea what it controlled, maybe a furnace or something.

    In the on/off switch of a portable Hospital vacuum pump.

    You may also find them in the AC/DC ( \m/,) rectifier in vintage valve radios and amplifiers.

    Google image these parts and switches to see what they look like.

    The main reason why they use Mercury in switches is because there's no arcing at the contact face, so that means there's no sparks to inginite any flammable fumes in the air (such as the hospital).

    The hall thermostat was a bimetal 'tipping' action, once the metal strip moved the glass vial so far, the Mercury ran from one end of the tube to the other and made a electrical contact across the two contacts, turning whatever it was, On.
    (Same sort of 'tipping action' in the hospital vacuum pump too)

    The rectifier.... These are real neat, a double W shaped glass globe with Mercury in the base.
    Wiki it see one. And find out how they work, amazing. The ones in valve radios are small eggcup size.
    But the same system, as large as a fridge, turns the AC electricity from huge hydro power stations into DC power, for long distance and under sea cable transmission.

    The main thing with these Mercury relays/switches, is that they are inside a Glass tube with Copper wires going into it. You can see the Mercury inside it.
    Also, while it does feel good to shake the vial and feel the Mercury slosh around inside it....
    Don't.!
    Mercurys pretty heavy and can break the end out of the glass tube..

    The relay you pictured above is the sort you will find quite often while scrapping metal.
    That ones got Silver/Copper contacts in it.
    If there's Three contacts in it, often the centre one is solid Silver. (Actually its got Cadmium in it as well, its poisonous to inhale, so don't melt it down)
    Most of the time the Silver is a button melted to the Copper backing, so its worth a little amount of money.
    Cheaper contacts have only a thin electroplated face of Silver.

    Though some contacts are Gold plated Silver or even solid Gold. You find these in slim and small relays, mostly the sorts that are 'onboard' circuit boards and such. Sometimes open air contacts in CD drive units, double tapedeck units, floppy drive units.
    European dishwashers and driers like to have Gold plated contacts in their switches too.

    I have found that others will have good Silver contacts in their switches, and dryer motors (NZ anyway) have huge solid Silver contacts on/inside the motors.

    Last thing (thank God for auto update..) You may find 'reed switches', they are a thin glass tube with a wire out each end and two thin metal strips inside the glass tube. (No Mercury inside it)
    Google image it.
    Sometimes they are inside a plastic rectanglular block on a circuit board with a small Copper wire coil around it, encased in epoxy.
    I get the impression they have a Platinum coating over Gold, over Copper, on Steel wire.
    _-------------------

    Added later.......
    Wow! I just had a Google and found this site.
    NEWMOA - Mercury Legacy Products - Appliances & Household Products

    Even a quick look tells me it would be pretty important for all of us to read the whole site.
    Basicly its got a long list of everything we can expect to find Mercury in, and where.

    The first three items, I had no idea that they could contain Mercury at all.
    Last edited by eesakiwi; 12-29-2015 at 08:32 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scrappinred View Post
    i have a lot of boards with relays, but i have no idea how to know if they are mercury or not. I look forward to anyone posting pics and identification details...


    I have a lot of relays that look like this:



    ...and i think they are not mercury... ?
    gotta love those with the silver buttons. I saved a bunch of those and ones in blue and black boxes. At least i believe those are silver buttons you can clip off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScrappinRed View Post
    I have a lot of boards with relays, but I have no idea how to know if they are mercury or not. I look forward to anyone posting pics and identification details...

    I have a lot of relays that look like this:



    ...and I think they are not mercury... ?
    No mercury in this type of relay, most have silver alloy bonded onto the contact face while those used in sever elements for example Thermo King truck reefers or from relays used in a PLC ( programmable logic controller ) used in a harsh environment would have gold alloy bonded onto the face of the contacts.

    PLC Logic Board, these come in may different arrangements and styles,

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    Quote Originally Posted by eesakiwi View Post
    I have found Mercury relays in Heating equipment thermostats, this was the unit that was screwed to the outside wall of a community Hall. (So it was old and semi industrial setting).

    In the electrical cabinets of some industrial equipment. I have no idea what it controlled, maybe a furnace or something.

    In the on/off switch of a portable Hospital vacuum pump.

    You may also find them in the AC/DC ( \m/,) rectifier in vintage valve radios and amplifiers.

    Google image these parts and switches to see what they look like.

    The main reason why they use Mercury in switches is because there's no arcing at the contact face, so that means there's no sparks to inginite any flammable fumes in the air (such as the hospital).

    The hall thermostat was a bimetal 'tipping' action, once the metal strip moved the glass vial so far, the Mercury ran from one end of the tube to the other and made a electrical contact across the two contacts, turning whatever it was, On.
    (Same sort of 'tipping action' in the hospital vacuum pump too)

    The rectifier.... These are real neat, a double W shaped glass globe with Mercury in the base.
    Wiki it see one. And find out how they work, amazing. The ones in valve radios are small eggcup size.
    But the same system, as large as a fridge, turns the AC electricity from huge hydro power stations into DC power, for long distance and under sea cable transmission.

    The main thing with these Mercury relays/switches, is that they are inside a Glass tube with Copper wires going into it. You can see the Mercury inside it.
    Also, while it does feel good to shake the vial and feel the Mercury slosh around inside it....
    Don't.!
    Mercurys pretty heavy and can break the end out of the glass tube..

    The relay you pictured above is the sort you will find quite often while scrapping metal.
    That ones got Silver/Copper contacts in it.
    If there's Three contacts in it, often the centre one is solid Silver. (Actually its got Cadmium in it as well, its poisonous to inhale, so don't melt it down)
    Most of the time the Silver is a button melted to the Copper backing, so its worth a little amount of money.
    Cheaper contacts have only a thin electroplated face of Silver.

    Though some contacts are Gold plated Silver or even solid Gold. You find these in slim and small relays, mostly the sorts that are 'onboard' circuit boards and such. Sometimes open air contacts in CD drive units, double tapedeck units, floppy drive units.
    European dishwashers and driers like to have Gold plated contacts in their switches too.

    I have found that others will have good Silver contacts in their switches, and dryer motors (NZ anyway) have huge solid Silver contacts on/inside the motors.

    Last thing (thank God for auto update..) You may find 'reed switches', they are a thin glass tube with a wire out each end and two thin metal strips inside the glass tube. (No Mercury inside it)
    Google image it.
    Sometimes they are inside a plastic rectanglular block on a circuit board with a small Copper wire coil around it, encased in epoxy.
    I get the impression they have a Platinum coating over Gold, over Copper, on Steel wire.
    _-----—--------------

    Added later.......
    Wow! I just had a Google and found this site.
    NEWMOA - Mercury Legacy Products - Appliances & Household Products

    Even a quick look tells me it would be pretty important for all of us to read the whole site.
    Basicly its got a long list of everything we can expect to find Mercury in, and where.

    The first three items, I had no idea that they could contain Mercury at all.
    Some of the older washing machines used a mercury lid switch the mercury is encapsulated in a hard rubber or plastic shell with a pair of wires coming out one end. I would love to find one to make a decent float switch for my bilge pump on my boat.

    Kenmore and Inglis to name a few had them.

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    don't know about mercury but a few months ago I got more relays than I could ever handle could not even move them myself I found a buyer for all them and dint mind any loses as I would never have been able to tear them all down but I bid $100 and won a lot as in alot lol 5,000,000 of these old 60's era pkm1 relays from Russia with silver contacts almost 11 pallet boxes filled to there brim with these. none really in good shape like they were bad made or ripped out of things, I dint get a story but that they were stored in a warehouse and forgot about.
    they were worth $15,000 to me from my buyer which was just fine even if they were worth $10each I dint care cause I had to move them fast with no space to save them or for that matter move them without dumping loads into my truck as I had 24hrs to take them or forfeit but could not find more info on them and their worth but a few ebay items that never sold

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    ^^Are you saying you paid $100 for 11 gaylords full, and sold for $15,000? If so, congratulations!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRecycleGuy View Post
    gotta love those with the silver buttons. I saved a bunch of those and ones in blue and black boxes. At least i believe those are silver buttons you can clip off.
    I set up an old bench grinder with water on the wheel just like a lapidary grinder inside an old drawer to catch the crap coming off the contacts, just break the reeds off then grind the contact off save the dust. Since the dust coming off is wet it stays in the bottom of the drawer to be collected later.

    You will find that most of the contacts are heavily plated and not a solid silver alloy.

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    Not sure exactly what type of mercury relay Ewasted is concerned about (probably any type). Here is one type that is used on circuit boards.


    Mercury Wetted Reed Relay: are used for high contact performance. These reed relays are position sensitive and suitable for applications where high insulation voltage and contact ratings are required. The contacts of these relays are wetted with mercury, which is used to reduce the contact resistance and voltage drop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigburtchino View Post
    Not sure exactly what type of mercury relay Ewasted is concerned about (probably any type). Here is one type that is used on circuit boards.


    Mercury Wetted Reed Relay: are used for high contact performance. These reed relays are position sensitive and suitable for applications where high insulation voltage and contact ratings are required. The contacts of these relays are wetted with mercury, which is used to reduce the contact resistance and voltage drop.
    Ouch!
    I would have said 'Reed relay' and broken it open.....
    I didn't relise there's Mercury in reed relays at all.

    Some of then ones I found have a metal case over them.

    And I found these on some portable home telephone main boards.


    There's a thin wire Copper coil under the blue tape, and the reed switch is inside the plastic tube former.

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    eesakiwi - 99% of reed relay/switches would be no problem for you, me are anyone to "crack open", it's the 1% or less that have warnings labels like "Do Not Open", "Warning Contains Mercury" or just "Contains Hg". All wetted mercury reed relays that I have encountered are clearly labeled. Mercury containing relays are not common, but then again if you scrap enough circuit boards, sooner or later you will find them.

    Here are the guidelines for handling and proper recycling or disposal of wetted mercury relay/switches:

    Under no circumstance should a mercury relay be opened or disassembled. If accidental breakage or crushing occurs causing mercury leakage, restrict access to the area and contact your company safety officer and or your local Department of Environmental Conservation.

    After life disposal, mercury wetted relays must be recycled or disposed of as hazardous waste and in compliance with Federal, State and Local regulations. In some States mercury wetted relays fall under the policies for "universal waste" which simplify the process. Contact your States environmental department or the US EPA for specific information for your location.

    The two disposal options are, direct shipment as "Universal Waste" to a mercury recycling facility or Shipment through a hazardous waste transporter to a proper destination facility.

    Companies specializing in recycling or disposal of mercury waste can be found on the World Wide Web. Your States department of Hazardous Waste is also a good source of information.

    There always a right way, a wrong way and acceptable way, I prefer the healthy way always!
    Last edited by bigburtchino; 12-31-2015 at 01:02 PM.

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    Our old thermostat in the hall had a mercury switch. It was clear glass and you could see the mercury inside.

    I've never seen a mercury switch on any of the computers, telephone systems or any circuit boards associated with either. I must say that I haven't been looking for them either.

    This thread is one of the reasons why I don't depopulate circuit boards. I have no idea what might be inside some of the different components.

    The last thing I need is mercury poisoning or to bust open something only to have some green flesh eating goo get on me.

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    Thanks for asking this, NA. It was driving me nuts!

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    This informative PDF file from Greenpeace lists all the toxic elements used to manufacture electronics.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/internatio...ls-in-elec.pdf

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    The following is copied from a handout from Ohioepa. Gives a pretty good overview of some of the hazardous waste associated with E-waste handling.

    Hazardous components of electronic waste and where they are found
    Electronic waste or e-waste often has hazardous or toxic components that can have an impact on the environment once the materials end up in a landfill or if they are improperly managed and disposed. Below is a list of hazardous or toxic components of e-waste and where they may be found:

    • Antimony trioxide - a flame retardant, added to cathode ray tube monitor (CRT) glass, found in printed circuit boards and cables
    • Arsenic - in older cathode ray tubes and in light emitting diodes
    • Barium - in the CRT
    • Beryllium - often allied with copper to improve copper's strength, conductivity and elasticity. Old motherboards, contact springs found in printed circuit boards, relays, and in the mirror mechanism of laser printers. In power supply boxes which contain silicon controlled rectifiers and x-ray lenses
    • Cadmium - circuit boards and semiconductors Rechargeable NiCd-batteries, fluorescent layer (CRT screens), printer inks and toners, photocopying-machines (printer drums)
    • Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) - Cooling unit, Insulation foam
    • Chromium - in steel as corrosion protection, Data tapes, floppy-disks, circuit boards, photocopying-machines (printer drums)
    • Cobalt - component in steel for structural strength and magnetivity
    • Lead - cathode ray tubes, solder, batteries, printed wiring boards (circuit boards), solder on components
    • Lithium - batteries
    • Mercury - switches (mercury wetted) and housing, fluorescent lamps providing backlighting in liquid crystal displays (LCDs) for monitors and laptops, batteries, printed circuit boards
    • Nickel - batteries, electron gun in CRT , printed circuit boards
    • Polybrominated flame retardants (including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), and tetrabromo bis-biphenol-a (TBBA))- plastic casings, cables, and circuit boards, condensers, transformers
    • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) - Cable insulation
    • Selenium - circuit boards as power to supply rectifier, photocopying-machines (printer drums)
    • Zinc - interior of CRT screens, printed circuit boards

    There are many sites that can provide more information on the toxics in e-waste, including:
    http://latitude42.org/cgi-bin/view/Main/IctToxins
    www.e-waste.org.za/hazmat.htm
    www.smalldog.com/ewaste/index.html

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  33. #20
    newattitude started this thread.
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    Here we go folks! Mario was kind enough to send me pics so I'm passing them along!






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