New Way To Recycle E-Waste Is To Pulverise Electronics Into Nanodust

Posted: Mar 25 2017, 12:42pm CDT | by , Updated: Mar 25 2017, 12:51pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

New Way to Recycle E-Waste is to Pulverise Electronics into Nanodust
A transparent piece of epoxy, left, compared to epoxy with e-waste reinforcement at right. A cryo-milling process developed at Rice University and the Indian Institute of Science simplifies the process of separating and recycling electronic waste. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Ajayan Research Group
  • E-Garbage may be Crushed for a Leaner, Greener and Cleaner Environment

The scientists have found that e-garbage may be crushed for a leaner, greener and cleaner environment.

An idea was proposed by the researchers regarding the disintegration of e-waste. It can be crushed into nanodust. Instead of recycling electronic junk, converting in into small particles is a better proposal.

A low temperature cryo-mill can be employed to crush the electronic waste into particles that are so small that they do not constitute garbage.

The electronic items that are wasted this way include microchips and components forming PCBs. These small particles can then be easily differentiated and used again.

This methodology is ideal for getting rid of e-waste. At least it is better than throwing e-waste into landfills or incinerating and treating it with chemicals to gain valuable metals and alloys back from the ore.

Not even one of these methods is environment-friendly. The process is unidirectional. Also the waste is not completely destroyed and a lot of energy goes into the destruction of the electronic junk.

The new method allows for the complete breakdown of the metals, oxides and polymers into a consistent powder.

E-waste is expected to increase by 30% over the next half a decade or so. By the time 2030 comes rolling in, the e-waste may amount to a billion tons. Over 85% of e-waste finds its way into a landfill or gets incinerated.

E-waste will grow into a massive headache for the United States as it moves forward into the middle years of the 21st century. These statistics come straight from the EPA.

A cryo-mill may come in handy here. The e-waste is kept at extremely low temperatures while being pulverized into tiny bits and pieces. This garbage is not heated at all as it usually was in the past.

Cold stuff is easier to break down into its components. It is more sensitive and fragile to boot. It is a law of physics. Heat things and they coalesce. Make them very cold and they tend to go brittle.

At low temperatures the materials hardly miscegenate with each other. Rather they are scattered into particles that are very small. The computer mouse was used to demonstrate this principle of cold dispersion.

This component of the by-now defunct personal computer was employed to show how cryo-mill destruction works in an efficient manner to deconstruct e-waste into its basic constructs. These constructs may be re-used if the technologists want such a thing. Thus nothing actually goes to waste.

The details of this process are described in the journal Materials Today.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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