Deal dumps on toxic pollution from electronic circuitry

Jun 21, 2006

Reducing the toxic pollution of landfill sites from lead in the circuits of dumped electronic equipment is the aim of a research agreement between The University of Queensland and a major Japanese metals company.

UQ and Nihon Superior Company Limited have entered a three-year research alliance to continue developing a revolutionary alloy technology discovered by the company's chief executive Tetsuro Nishimura.

The technology provides an environmentally friendly alternative to lead solder currently used in circuitry.

Millions of outdated computers and other electronic components with circuitry joined by lead solder are buried in landfill sites worldwide each year, with the amount set to soar.

With heavy metal toxins such as lead leaching into the ground, many governments, led by the European Union, are banning the use of hazardous substances in electronic equipment.

UQ Associate Professor Arne Dahle and Dr Kazuhiro Nogita from the UQ division of Materials Engineering have consulted with Nihon Superior on lead-free solders for the electronics industry for two years.

The work has been coordinated by their Materials Engineering colleague Dr Jeff Gates and UQ Materials Performance researchers.

“We have been able to provide detailed knowledge about the Nihon Superior's alloys, and so have strengthened its patented technology,” Dr Dahle said.

The UQ solidification group headed up by Dr Dahle was identified by Nihon Superior as the best in the world in this area.

Their research has for the first time involved documenting in detail the solidification mechanisms in the revolutionary alloys and the reason for their superior soldering behaviour.

“With cash funding of more than $450,000 plus additional provisions of resources such as equipment, material and exchanges, we are confident this work will ultimately lead to the discovery and development of even better lead-free solders for the future,” Dr Dahle said.

Source: University of Queensland

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