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RECYCLING PROCESS FOR RECOVERING PRECIOUS METALS FROM ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT

Base metalsHydrometallurgical processPrecious metalsPrinted circuitsRecycling

Introduction

This invention concerns a hydrometallurgical process for the recycling and recovery of base metals (Copper, Tin, Lead, and Nickel) and precious metals (Gold and Silver) from electronic boards or printed circuits from electrical and electronic equipment.

Technical features

Current recovery technologies consist of physical-mechanical or chemical procedures. The former do not allow to obtain a complete separation of the metals of interest in a single fraction and can lead to the diffusion of small particles in the air. The chemical processes for the recovery and recycling of base metals consist of pyro, bio and hydrometallurgical methods. The former require high temperatures (about 1200° C) and are very expensive and polluting; the latter are very complex and potentially polluting processes. The use of a hydrometallurgical process, currently under patent, implemented and perfected by a group of researchers from the University of L’Aquila, allows the recovery of precious and basic metals, with a high yield, easy to control processing operations and with a lower cost per investment than other technologies.

Possible Applications

Recovery and recycling of industrial waste from:

  • WEEE (electronic boards and printed circuit boards of electrical and electronic equipment, especially PCs and smartphones);
  • Chemical industry (waste with base and precious metal content);
  • Automotive industry (electronic boards).

Advantages

  • Selective recovery of precious metals (Au, Ag) and base metals (Cu, Sn, Pb, and Ni);
  • High purity of recovered products (between 50% and 97%);
  • Simple process and easy industrialization with very advantageous scalability;
  • Reduced investment costs.