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Simplifying electronic waste recycling

|21 March 2017|


Unwanted electronics usually end up in landfill but new research suggests they could be smashed up into nanodust instead and used to make new products.

Using a low-temperature cryo-mill researchers from Rice University and Indian Institute of Science have developed a process to transform electronic waste into tiny particles suitable for reuse. This is good news for the environment as it offers an alternative to destroying them with harmful chemicals or dumping them in the ground.

“In every case, the cycle is one way, and burning or using chemicals takes a lot of energy while still leaving waste. We propose a system that breaks all of the components – metals, oxides and polymers – into homogenous powders and makes them easy to reuse,” explained Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, a postdoctoral researcher at Rice and a researcher at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

The researchers say this so-called e-waste will grow by 33% before the end of the decade and that by 2030 will top a billion tons in weight. Making a scaled-up version of the cry-mill used by the team could be one solution to tackling the problem.

The process is the subject of a Materials Today paper by Tiwary, Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and Indian Institute professors Kamanio Chattopadhyay and D.P. Mahapatra.



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