A useful life for old circuit boards

Circuit World

ISSN: 0305-6120

Article publication date: 1 December 2002




(2002), "A useful life for old circuit boards", Circuit World, Vol. 28 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/cw.2002.21728dab.017



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited

A useful life for old circuit boards

Keywords: Recycling, Printed circuit boards

(Financial Times) A process to recycle printed circuit boards could cut down the growing problem of discarded computers and other electronic products.

The technique, which has been awarded a patent, was developed at Cambridge University. It uses a new chemical leaching agent to enable reusable metals and silicon chips to be recovered from shredded circuit boards.

The leaching agent, composed of fluorobic acid containing titanium, is highly selective, dissolving the solder on circuit boards without destroying electronic components. Tin and lead can then be recovered from the leaching agent.

At present, much of the electronic equipment thrown away by users is disposed of in landfill sites, where the lead in the solder can pollute ground-water. Some equipment is fed to copper smelting plants, where the molten copper collects the precious metals from the boards, forming a sludge from which the metals can be separated out. This process, however, can give rise to harmful fumes and is inefficient. University of Cambridge, UK; Tel: 01223 337 733;


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