Advances in recycling for the electronics sector

September 26, 2012
Advances in recycling for the electronics sector
Credit: Thinkstock

Research has addressed the mounting problem of polymers from the electronics sector entering the waste stream. An EU-funded research team investigated a fully recyclable polymer and have developed new moulding methods for components.

An alarming number of composed of polymers with a very short lifespan enter the domestic stream – mobile phones, digital cameras and laptop computers, for example. Consequently, introduction of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) Directive has placed economic pressure on manufacturers to come up with appropriate for such products.

The 'Eco-efficient designs for end-of-life, anti-counterfeit electronic device recovery' (Separate) project worked on the water-soluble polymer polyvinyl alcohol as one possibly suitable material. Non-toxic and biodegradeable, polyvinyl alcohol is a polymer where the degree of hydrolysis, hence the number of units and the molecular weight determines the processability.

The Separate team found that a polymer, PVAXX, can be dissolved in 30 seconds using a batch dissolution process and can be speeded up using ultrasonics. Moreover, the polymer can be reused and injection moulded without significant loss of properties.

A novel over-moulding technology was developed using the polymer and fully encapsulated modules for a smart card application were produced. The team also developed semi-encapsulated electronic components for a contact and non-contact smart card, a memory stick and a calculator case.

Separate deliverables were industrially validated. A robotic simulation of the injection moulding, handling and subsequent testing of the memory sticks was developed. To study the industrial scale, another simulation using a counter current washing principle was chosen to minimise water and energy use.

The impact of Separate technology will be a decrease of the amount of electropolymeric waste discarded in Europe. As a result, there will be less organic pollutants and heavy metal water pollution.

Explore further: Nano-structured polymer-based materials from scrap

Related Stories

Nano-structured polymer-based materials from scrap

May 25, 2012

EU researchers developed polymer blends and processing techniques facilitating recovery of scrap from industrial processes. Advances in this area have the potential to decrease costs and waste while protecting the environment.

Carbon Nanotubes for State-of-the-art Packaging

July 12, 2004

Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc (CNI) and Kostat, Inc. today announced a joint development agreement to develop and commercialise conductive polymers for electronics module trays, carrier tapes and other electronics related ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.