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Innovative recovery of metals from electrical and electronic waste

The project concerns the safe and economically viable management and recovery of rare earth elements (ree) from different electronic waste compositions and origins. The challenge posed is the difficult, but highly rewarding, separations of the rare earth metal ions from variable complex matrices.

The goal for the EUREKA project is to adapt the promising chemistry for recovery of valuable metals for electronic wastes, such as solar panels, microchips, and display screens, etc. One major outcome from the proposed project is the development of the robust recycling. The lab-scale results aim at the investigation of waste-specific recycling as inputs for the pilot scale developments in the future. Another important goal of the proposal is the mutual exchange of ideas and personal for the training between Swiss and Lithuanian academic and industrial partners regarding material preparation, separation and analysis tools for areas of close relevance with this project. The technology development will help Lithuanian industries to contribute to metal recycling and waste management, as well as to get the financial sustainability through successful commercialization of the outcome of this project. To execute the research and technology development tasks towards the objectives, following methodology will be adopted by the consortium partners according to their expertise and commercial interests. 2.1.1 Investigation of the current research and analyzing the changing status of different electronics wastes with time: Extensive literature studies will be undertaken by PSI (CH) and KTU (LT) to study the reported electronic recycling and waste management strategies. In particular also the changing status of electronics wastes of interest with the present project with time will be analyzed, such as the replacement of big screen or television sets by flat screens, or the replacement of big phones by the small microchips and mobile phones (“handys”), because these factors has a large impact on the amount and composition of future wastes. Several different waste sources will be studied and evaluated, such as microchips, flat screens, solar panels, magnets, lamps and recyclable valuable components, and maximum two will be tested further regarding chemical separation efficiency. 2.1.2 Identification of the metals and their economic viability for recovery: As per the interests of the Lithuanian consortium partner industries, the size and component measurements as well the identification and quantification of precious metals present with the Lithuanian Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) will be done in Lithuania. WEEE collected in Switzerland will be characterized by the Swiss consortium partners. The economic viability of the promising metals will be checked according to commercially acceptable purities by the waste-providing Lithuanian consortium partner industry. The Lithuanian industries will also provide the crushed electronic components after removal or plastic, glass, non-metallic components, in the powder or solution form to the Swiss academic partner (PSI) for element analysis, higher metal separation and for comparison with Swiss WEEE when it can be crushed by BLUBOX at BLUBOX Trading AG. 2.1.3 Tests for the Liquid-Liquid Extraction technique developments: Attempts will be made towards the development of robust and selective extraction techniques to recover the valuable metals from materials provided by the Lithuanian industries. PSI will undertake these developments with the required technical and infrastructural support from all partner industries involved. PSI will encourage the exchange and training of the students from the LT partners under EUREKA consortium under the provision that the Lithuanian partners will cover their travel, housing, and living costs in CH. 2.1.4 Economic and environmental impact assessment: To check the promise and feasibility of the developed chemistry and technology it will be necessary to validate the economic and environmental impact. These attempts will be carried out in association with the consortium industrial partners. 2.1.5 Input of above investigated data for future pilot developments: All the above studied aspects are to be combined, discussed and evaluated through the consortium meetings (planned are three meetings; see the CH- under item 5.2). The outcomes will be needed for furthering future pilot scale developments to address the electronic waste management and recycling. Also the mutual exchange of personnel for complementary literature research, training, and basic technology transfer will be encouraged amongst the academic and industrial partners from both sides (CH, LT). (For further details refer to the CH-KTI proposal attached separately.)
Acronym: 
RECOTRON
Project ID: 
10 356
Start date: 
01-06-2016
Project Duration: 
24months
Project costs: 
400 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Chemical Technology and Engineering
Market Area: 
Chemicals and Materials

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.