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Processing waste printed circuit boards for material recovery

Hall, W.J. and Williams, P.T (2007) Processing waste printed circuit boards for material recovery. Circuit World, 33 (4). pp. 43-50. ISSN 0305-6120

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PURPOSE We have investigated the use of pyrolysis for the processing of waste printed circuit boards (PCBs). The aim was to make the process of separating the organic, metallic, and glass fibre fractions of PCBs much easier and therefore make recycling of each PCB fraction more viable.

DESIGN / METHODOLOGY / APPROACH The PCBs were pyrolysed in a fixed bed reactor at 850°C. The organic fraction released by the boards was analysed by a variety of gas chromatography techniques. The residue that remained after pyrolysis was analysed by ICP-MS to determine the type of metals that were present.

FINDINGS When PCBs were heated to 800°C in an oxygen free atmosphere, the organic fraction decomposed to form volatile oils and gases leaving behind the metal and glass fibre fraction of the boards. The pyrolysed boards were very friable and the different fractions (metal components, copper power boards, glass fibre, etc) could be easily separated. The recovered metals could then be recycled by traditional routes with particular emphasis being placed on the recovery and recycling of rare and precious metals. The organic oils and gases which are produced during pyrolysis of PCBs can either be used as a chemical feedstock or as a fuel.

RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS The research was only carried out on a very small scale so an investigation into scale-up must be performed.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS By using pyrolysis, the organic and metallic fraction of printed circuit boards can be separated and recycled.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE This paper presents a novel method for resource recovery from PCBs.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2007 Emerald. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Circuit World. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: printed circuit board, recycling, pyrolysis, materials recovery
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Chemical & Process Engineering (Leeds) > Energy Research Institute (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr William Hall
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2008 17:08
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:05
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03056120710836936
Status: Published
Publisher: Emerald
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1108/03056120710836936
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3643

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