Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers call for specialty metals recycling

Date:
September 24, 2012
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
An international policy is needed for recycling scarce specialty metals that are critical in the production of consumer goods, according to researchers.

The sequence of the main steps involved in the recycling of metals.
Credit: Image courtesy of Yale University

An international policy is needed for recycling scarce specialty metals that are critical in the production of consumer goods, according to Yale researchers in Science.

"A recycling rate of zero for specialty metals is alarming when we consider that their use is growing quickly," said co-author Barbara Reck, a research scientist at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Specialty metals, which include rare earth elements such as indium, gallium and germanium, account for more than 30 of the 60 metals in the periodic table. Because they are used in small amounts for very precise technological purposes, such as red phosphors, high-strength magnets, thin-film solar cells and computer chips, recovery can be so technologically and economically challenging that the attempt is seldom made.

"Specialty metals are used in products in only small amounts, but their value typically does not provide enough incentive to invest in a complicated recovery process. Also, the technology to do so is untested," said Thomas Graedel, the study's other co-author and Clifton R. Musser Professor of Industrial Ecology.

The researchers said improved design for recycling, deposits on consumer goods, recycling targets for specialty metals and financial incentives for industry to apply state-of-the-art separation techniques and recycling technologies would improve metal recycling.

"Metals are infinitely recyclable in principle, but, in practice, recycling is often inefficient or essentially nonexistent because of limits imposed by social behavior, product design, recycling technologies and the thermodynamics of separation," said Reck.

The researchers said that modern technology has produced a conundrum. The more intricate the product and the more diverse the materials it uses, the better it's likely to perform but the more difficult it is to recycle.

The benefit to recycling metals, they said, includes the potential to reduce the extraction of virgin ores, thus extending the life of those resources. The environmental impacts of metal production are reduced substantially when recycled materials, rather than primary materials, are used, and recycling a metal is generally much more energy-efficient than acquiring it from a mine.

"Depending on the metal and the form of scrap, recycling can save as much as a factor of 10 or 20 in energy consumption," Graedel said. "The situation clearly calls for international policy initiatives to minimize the seemingly bizarre situation of spending large amounts of technology, time, energy and money to acquire scarce metals from the mines and then throwing them away after a single use."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. K. Reck, T. E. Graedel. Challenges in Metal Recycling. Science, 2012; 337 (6095): 690 DOI: 10.1126/science.1217501

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Researchers call for specialty metals recycling." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924175211.htm>.
Yale University. (2012, September 24). Researchers call for specialty metals recycling. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924175211.htm
Yale University. "Researchers call for specialty metals recycling." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924175211.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins