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Jaeryeong Lee, Youngjin Kim, and Jae c Lee (2012)

Disassembly and physical separation of electric/electronic components layered in printed circuit boards (PCB)

Journal of Hazardous Materials, 241-242:387-394.

Although printed circuit boards (PCBs) contain various elements, only the major elements (i.e., those with content levels in wt% or over grade) of and precious metals (e.g., Ag, Au, and platinum groups) contained within PCBs can be recycled. To recover other elements from PCBs, the PCBs should be properly disassembled as the first step of the recycling process. The recovery of these other elements would be beneficial for efforts to conserve scarce resources, reuse electric/electronic components (EECs), and eliminate environmental problems. This paper examines the disassembly of EECs from wasted PCBs (WPCBs) and the physical separation of these EECs using a self-designed disassembling apparatus and a 3-step separation process of sieving, magnetic separation, and dense medium separation. The disassembling efficiencies were evaluated by using the ratio of grinding area (Earea) and the weight ratio of the detached EECs (Eweight). In the disassembly treatment, these efficiencies were improved with an increase of grinder speed and grinder height. 97.7% (Earea) and 98% (Eweight) could be accomplished ultimately by 3 repetitive treatments at a grinder speed of 5500rpm and a grinder height of 1.5mm. Through a series of physical separations, most groups of the EECs (except for the diode, transistor, and IC chip groups) could be sorted at a relatively high separation efficiency of about 75% or more. To evaluate the separation efficiency with regard to the elemental composition, the distribution ratio (Rdis) and the concentration ratio (Rconc) were used. 15 elements could be separated with the highest Rdis and Rconc in the same separated division. This result implies that the recyclability of the elements is highly feasible, even though the initial content in EECs is lower than several tens of mg/kg. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Disassembling treatment, Electric/electronic component, Physical separation, Printed circuit board, Separation efficiency

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