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Title: Electrorecycling of Critical and Value Metals from Mobile Electronics

Mobile electronic devices such as smart phones and tablets are a significant source of valuable metals that should be recycled. Each year over a billion devices are sold world-wide and the average life is only a couple years. Value metals in phones are gold, palladium, silver, copper, cobalt and nickel. Devices now contain increasing amounts of rare earth elements (REE). In recent years the supply chain for REE has moved almost exclusively to China. They are contained in displays, speakers and vibrators within the devices. By US Department of Energy (DOE) classification, specific REEs (Nd, Dy, Eu, Tb and Y) are considered critical while others (Ce, La and Pr) are deemed near critical. Effective recycling schemes should include the recovery of these critical materials. By including more value materials in a recovery scheme, more value can be obtained by product diversification and less waste metals remains to be disposed of. REEs are mined as a group such that when specific elements become critical significantly more ore must be processed to capture the dilute but valuable critical elements. Targeted recycling of items containing the more of the less available critical materials could address their future criticality. This presentation will describe workmore » in developing aqueous electrochemistry-based schemes for recycling metals from scrap mobile electronics. The electrorecycling process generates oxidizing agents at an anode while reducing dissolved metals at the cathode. E vs pH diagrams and metals dissolution experiments are used to assess effectiveness of various solution chemistries. Although several schemes were envisioned, a two stages process has been the focus of work: 1) initial dissolution of Cu, Sn, Ag and magnet materials using Fe+3 generated in acidic sulfate and 2) final dissolution of Pd and Au using Cl2 generated in an HCl solution. Experiments were performed using simulated metal mixtures. Both Cu and Ag were recovered at ~ 97% using Fe+3 while leaving Au and Ag intact. REE were extracted from the dissolved mixture using conventional methods. A discussion of future research directions will be discussed.« less
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Conference: COM 2014, Vancouver, BC (Canada), 28 Sep - 1 Oct 2014
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE Critical Materials; Electrochemistry; Recycling; Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)