Every year we throw away millions of electronic devices
Although could mine valuable metals and plastics, as is done in Australia. Engineers at the University of New South wells made microfabrica where you can recycle e-waste.
In the words of Guilt Sahajwalla, we are all owners of “Microsoft” — the old smartphones, tablets, laptops and other electronic debris that accumulates on the shelves or goes to landfill. However, this is a very valuable resource — from one ton of mobile phones (about 6,000 pieces) you can get about 130 kg of copper, 3 kg of silver, 340 grams of gold and 140 grams of palladium. If we add to 25 million old mobile phones in landfills Australia alone and even TVs, computers, tablets, and other devices, the numbers get astronomical. For example, the U.S. electronics industry with a turnover of $1 trillion “produces” about 42 million tons of obsolete electronic devices.
University specialists are convinced that this problem can be solved through the development of 3D printing. Sahajwalla and her colleagues are developing a safer and cost-effective recycling process of electronic waste. We are talking about inexpensive technology industrial smelting. Such microfabrica the size of a cargo container equipped with robotic manipulators and drones that sorting trash, separating glass from circuit boards and plastic housings. The work is carried out at low temperatures, with careful handling of hazardous materials. And the whole process is controlled by a patented program, which aims to turn trash into treasure.
Buyers for precious metals is already rare production today without them, and plastic Sahajwalla offers to melt and sell as raw material for 3D printers. Given that the global market of consumable materials for 3D printing is projected, evaluated by 2026 to $6.6 billion, plastic may not be so modest source of income, even compared with gold or silver.
While the project is at the stage of prototyping, but if engineers will be able to achieve this task, microfabrica will certainly become economically viable. This system will enable to decentralize the business of processing and melt the electronic waste into secondary raw materials on the spot, which will reduce costs and carbon dioxide emissions from transportation. At least Sahajwalla sure its microfabrica have “huge potential for Australia to do something about electronic waste what the rest of the world does.”