Aug. 5, 2008 Scientists in China have developed a new recycling method that could transform yesterday's computer into tomorrow's park bench.
Their study, which focuses on decreasing environmental pollution through resource preservation, reuses fibers and resins of waste printed circuit boards (PCBs) that were thought worthless to produce a variety of high-strength materials.
Zhenming Xu and colleagues point out that as more electrical and electronic equipment has become obsolete, the issue of electronic-waste removal has intensified. PCBs account for about 3 percent by weight of all electronic waste, Xu says. Although metals from the circuit boards, such as copper and aluminum, are recycled, landfill disposal has been the primary method for treating their nonmetallic materials, which have been difficult to recycle, the paper says.
In the study, the researchers developed a process to recycle those nonmetallic materials, which they say could be used to produce diverse items like sewer grates, park benches and fences. The recycled material could also be a substitute for wood and other materials since it is almost as strong as reinforced concrete. "There is no doubt that the technique has potential in the industry for recycling nonmetallic materials of PCBs," Xu says.
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- Guo et al. A Plate Produced by Nonmetallic Materials of Pulverized Waste Printed Circuit Boards. Environmental Science & Technology, 2008; 42 (14): 5267 DOI: 10.1021/es800825u
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