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Towards Increased Recovery of Critical Raw Materials from WEEE– evaluation of CRMs at a component level and pre-processing methods for interface optimisation with recovery processes
Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Volume: 161, Start page: 104923
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Increasing recovery of critical raw materials (CRMs) from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is a strategic priority to mitigate supply risks. Today, CRM recovery rates are generally low, with increases requiring new recovery processes and interface optimisation with pre-processing to...
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Increasing recovery of critical raw materials (CRMs) from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is a strategic priority to mitigate supply risks. Today, CRM recovery rates are generally low, with increases requiring new recovery processes and interface optimisation with pre-processing to ensure appropriate material flows for efficient recovery are generated. Here, results from an industrial trial to increase CRM recovery from WEEE are presented to inform development of pre-processing strategies which generate such material flows. Au, Ag, Co, Ga, Mg, Nb, Ru, Pd, Ir, Y, Nd, Sb, Ta and W are identified with XRF in components of a range of WEEE samples including within individual printed circuit board (PCB) components. CRM distribution in PCBs is mapped by visual inspection with reference to this data. Cost-effective methods to disassemble WEEE; isolate CRM bearing components, and upgrade/concentrate CRMs are evaluated for industrial adoption. A guillotine is found most suitable for LCD disassembly and separation of Au edge-contacts from PCBs, while cryocracking is best for isolation of internal components of digital media devices. Thermal PCB disassembly with a solder bath for simultaneous SMD removal and subsequent sieving to sort SMDs thereby concentrating CRMs for recovery is a promising approach. Microwave ashing of PCBs to concentrate CRMs is promising although off-gas treatment would be required. Recovery potential of identified CRMs from material streams generated is found to be poor due to lack of suitable recovery infrastructure except for precious and platinum group metals in PCBs, but available pyrometallurgical recovery permanently dissipates other CRMs present.
Critical raw materials (CRMs), Analysis, WEEE, e-waste, Recycling, Circular economy