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Rhys G Charles, Peter Douglas, Mark Dowling, Gareth Liversage, and Matthew L Davies (2020)

Towards Increased Recovery of Critical Raw Materials from WEEE– evaluation of CRMs at a component level and pre-processing methods for interface optimisation with recovery processes

Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 161.

Increasing recovery of critical raw materials (CRMs) from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is a strategic priority to mitigate supply risks. Today, CRM recovery rates are generally low, with increases requiring new recovery processes and interface optimisation with pre-processing to ensure appropriate material flows for efficient recovery are generated. Here, results from an industrial trial to increase CRM recovery from WEEE are presented to inform development of pre-processing strategies which generate such material flows. Au, Ag, Co, Ga, Mg, Nb, Ru, Pd, Ir, Y, Nd, Sb, Ta and W are identified with XRF in components of a range of WEEE samples including within individual printed circuit board (PCB) components. CRM distribution in PCBs is mapped by visual inspection with reference to this data. Cost-effective methods to disassemble WEEE; isolate CRM bearing components, and upgrade/concentrate CRMs are evaluated for industrial adoption. A guillotine is found most suitable for LCD disassembly and separation of Au edge-contacts from PCBs, while cryocracking is best for isolation of internal components of digital media devices. Thermal PCB disassembly with a solder bath for simultaneous SMD removal and subsequent sieving to sort SMDs thereby concentrating CRMs for recovery is a promising approach. Microwave ashing of PCBs to concentrate CRMs is promising although off-gas treatment would be required. Recovery potential of identified CRMs from material streams generated is found to be poor due to lack of suitable recovery infrastructure except for precious and platinum group metals in PCBs, but available pyrometallurgical recovery permanently dissipates other CRMs present.

Analysis, Circular economy, Critical raw materials (CRMs), Recycling, WEEE, e-waste

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The Material Limits of Energy Transition: Thanatia

Antonio Valero Capilla, Alicia Valero Delgado and Guiomar Calvo

This book provides a holistic view of raw mineral depletion in the context of renewable energy transistion.

The material limits Thanatia


Thanatia. Los límites minerales del planeta

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 Antonio Valero Capilla and Alicia Valero Delgado interviewed by Adrián Almazán

We need a material transition, not only energetic, that restores nature and effectively reuses materials. Gaia must be cared for by extending life on Earth and slowing its degradation towards Thanatia.

Thanatia los limites


Thermodynamics for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

Cover Thermodynamics

Wojciech Stanek (Editor)

This book examines ways of assessing the rational management of nonrenewable resources. Integrating numerous methods, it systematically exposes the strengths of exergy analysis in resources management.

Thanatia: The Destiny of the Earth's Mineral Resources

Cover Thanatia

A Thermodynamic Cradle-to-Cradle Assessment by (author): Antonio Valero Capilla and Alicia Valero Delgado

Is Gaia becoming Thanatia, a resource exhausted planet? For how long can our high-tech society be sustained in the light of declining mineral ore grades, heavy dependence on un-recycled critical metals and accelerated material dispersion? These are all root causes of future disruptions that need to be addressed today.