Given the rapid rise of e-waste across the world, changes will need to be made in order to slow down the devastating effects of e-waste and global warming. The good news is that some countries have made recent strides to help boost the benefits of electronic recycling in the hopes that other nations will follow suit quickly.
Here, we will focus on new recycling technology and how it can help boost the efficiency of recycling programs around the world.
The E-Waste Pandemic
Today, more people own electronic gadgets than ever before. As such, trying to find new and inventive ways to handle all of the e-waste is a pressing concern. For instance, roughly 50 million metric tons of e-waste are produced globally every year, with that number growing by 2–4% every year.
Even worse is that only about 20% of e-waste is recycled annually, so new recycling technology is a must in order to help curb the e-waste pandemic. In fact, roughly 80% of e-waste ends up in landfills, where it will rot and contribute to air, water, and land pollution for thousands of years.
Current State of E-Waste Recycling
In most countries, e-waste is recycled via chemical baths and mechanical crushers, which are very capital-intensive. Manual labour is yet another popular method to help deal with e-waste. However, many countries do not have the proper equipment or training available, so manual labour recycling of e-waste can cause very dangerous environmental problems as well as serious and even life-threatening health problems, such as cancer and lung disease.
For example, some electronic components may contain mercury, arsenic, lead, and asbestos, which can lead to serious health problems and even death, and many rich countries send their e-waste to poorer countries that basically serve as a dumping ground for their waste products. As such, the current state of e-waste recycling around the world is very poor, and changes need to be made rapidly before the global e-waste crisis becomes insurmountable.
Fortunately, researchers in Japan have recently created a new recycling technology to help make recycling cleaner, safer, and more efficient as we shall see below.
The Promise of Pulsed Electric Discharges
Researchers based in Japan have been using pulsed electric discharges, also known as pulsed power, in order to devise a new recycling technique that is more efficient and cleaner than conventional recycling methods.
Pulsed power has been clinically demonstrated to process various forms of waste, including but not limited to, waste water and concrete materials. In regards to e-waste, the researchers from Kumamoto University wanted to test the ability of pulsed power to separate components from CD-ROMS, which are a notorious and widely disseminated form of e-waste that needs to be quelled as soon as possible.
It should also be noted that in prior work, the complete dichotomy of plastic from metal would transpire at thirty pulses at roughly 35J per pulse. As such, if you were to look at the current cost of electricity in Tokyo, Japan, then the aforementioned quantity of energy would only cost 0.4 Yen in order to recycle 100 CD-ROMS.
However, the dedicated research team wanted to go one step further, as they wanted to analyze this mechanism of component segregation via pulse electric discharges. To do so, they opted to analyze the plasma discharge with top-of-the-line ultra-speed cameras. That is, the researchers took schlieren visuals in order to gauge the shock wave. In addition, they utilized shadowgraph imagery to ascertain fragment motion.
Moreover, the images that were generated during the early stages of electric discharge showcased orange and blue-white emissions, which are very distinct from one another. They then deduced from the images that excitation of upper protecting plastic components and aluminum had taken place. In fact, after the plastic had dissipated, plastic and metal fragments were seen flying away from the samples of ROMs that were used.
What’s more, schlieren images were taken throughout the procedure and found that the most destructive shock waves formed around the two electrodes. The shock waves also generated pressure levels that were higher than 3.5 MPa close to the electrode tips, which is the nigh-equivalent of the pressure that a powerful galloping horse would create on the ground beneath it.
Also, the MPa dropped rapidly to under 0.8 at the 7.1 mm mark. The team concluded that material dispersal was very prudently observed throughout the process in both the shadowgraph and schlieren images that were taken by the researchers.
The Conclusion of the Ground-Breaking Study
The revolutionary Japanese study was spearheaded by world renowned research scientist Hamid Hosano, who was galvanized to take action due to the rapidly growing problem of e-waste and the lack of proper recycling technology to handle the excess workload.
Shock waves and their connection to pulse power were found to be very relevant, and there is great potential in the ability of pulse power to separate and remove materials when recycling e-waste. The hope of the research team is that their study findings will help usher in new recycling technology and help develop cleaner, safer, and more efficient recycling programs in the future.
The eCycle Difference
If you would like to learn about other forms of recycling technology that are primed to take the recycling industry and world by storm, then visit our new website. eCycle is strongly committed to going above and beyond the call of duty to make the world a better place for people from all walks of life.
We are also proud to be Canada’s largest and most reputable electronic recycling company and are R2 certified. We recycle everything from laptops and network equipment to power supplies and batteries, and also offer collection and logistics support, as well as online reporting and data destruction services upon request. To learn more about our cutting-edge and pioneering global recycling programs, please give us a call at 888-945-2611.