New process may convert toxic computer waste into safe products

May 12, 2008
New process may convert toxic computer waste into safe products
Researchers in Romania have created a way to transform bits and pieces of printed circuit boards from jettisoned computers into clean raw materials for consumer products, such as fuel and plastics. Credit: Courtesy of ago.mo.gov

Discarded computer parts could one day wind up fueling your car. That’s because researchers in Romania and Turkey have developed a simple, efficient method for recycling printed circuit boards into environmentally-friendly raw materials for use in fuel, plastic, and other useful consumer products. Their study is scheduled for the May 21 issue of ACS’ Energy & Fuels.

The boom in the use of computers has also created one of the world’s biggest environmental headaches: What to do with all the discarded circuit boards, which contain high levels of pollutants such as heavy metals and flame retardants that can potentially harm humans?

Researchers are seeking ways to remove these toxins so that these scrap materials can be safely recycled.

In the new study, Cornelia Vasile and colleagues collected printed circuit boards from discarded computers and processed the boards with a combination of high temperatures, catalysts, and chemical filtration. The processing method removed almost all of the toxic substances from the scraps, resulting in oils that can be safely used as fuel or raw materials called feedstocks for a wide variety of consumer products, the researchers say.

Source: ACS

Explore further: New technique moves researchers closer to new range of GaN biosensors

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Aromajoin gets in the stream of digital olfaction age

Dec 05, 2014

(Phys.org) —Welcome to the digital olfaction age. From Tokyo to Haifa to Berlin, scientists are keen to demonstrate their work to push digital olfaction along, whether they are talking about digital olfactory ...

Robots put to work on e-waste

Nov 18, 2014

UNSW researchers have programmed industrial robots to tackle the vast array of e-waste thrown out by Australians every year.

What commercial aircraft will look like in 2050

Nov 07, 2014

The aircraft industry is expecting a seven-fold increase in air traffic by 2050, and a four-fold increase in greenhouse gas emissions unless fundamental changes are made. But just how "fundamental" will those ...

Recommended for you

A renewable bioplastic made from squid proteins

8 hours ago

In the central Northern Pacific is an area that may be the size of Texas called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Made up of tons of floating plastic debris, the patch is killing seabirds and poisoning marine ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sophos
5 / 5 (1) May 13, 2008
I've wondered why you can't put computers
in a large vat and slowly heat it up
draining of the components as they melt
off. Recycling even the Aluminum housings??

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.