Waste Printed Circuit Boards as an Alternative Source of Gold and Nanomaterials

Technorama 2018

Authors: Maksym Tatarians, Samy Yousef


According to the recent global reports, about 55 million tons of electronic waste are generated in 2017 around the world. Waste Printed Circuit Boards (WPCBs) represent about 10% of the total weight of electronic waste (5.5 million tons in 2017). WPCBs are composed of 30% metals (including precious Au and Pd) and 70% non-metals (fiberglass and epoxy resin) and Cu is considered the base metal of WPCBs and represents ~22 wt.%. In order to achieve the goals of Circular Economy (CE) for the millions of tons of WPCBs, the authors developed a new method that recovered all layers and components of WPCBs with recycling rate 99%. The new technology can be summarized in the dissolution of brominated epoxy resin by using organic solvents and Ultrasonic treatment, hence, separating all layers of WPCB, and subsequent recovery of all materials. After that, a leaching process was used to liberate gold from gold-plated components was performed. Since the recovered Cu had high purity (>98%) the authors used it to synthesize Cu nanoparticles with average size ~5nm by high voltage and chemical reduction (Green approach). Based on the economic analysis of the developed technology, it was concluded that the application of this technology on an industrial scale can provide an economic return up to 90,000$ per ton of WPCBs. At the same time, the preparation costs were 6 times lower in comparison to the commercial counterparts. It is worth mentioning that the results of this research were published in six articles and presented in other manuscripts in progress.

2018 - 2018