Guiyu, China (CNN) — Did you ever wonder what happens to your old laptop or cellphone when you throw it away?
Chances are some of your old electronic junk will end up in China.
On seemingly every street, laborers sit on the pavement outside workshops ripping out the guts of household appliances with hammers and drills. The roads in Guiyu are lined with bundles of plastic, wires, cables and other garbage. Different components are separated based on their value and potential for re-sale. On one street sits a pile of green and gold circuit boards. On another, the metal cases of desktop computers.
At times, it looks like workers are reaping some giant plastic harvest, especially when women stand on roadsides raking ankle-deep “fields” of plastic chips.
In one workshop, men sliced open sacks of these plastic chips, which they then poured into large vats of fluid. They then used shovels and their bare hands to stir this synthetic stew.
“We sell this plastic to Foxconn,” one of the workers said, referring to a Taiwanese company that manufactures products for many global electronics companies, including Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
According to a recent United Nations report, “China now appears to be the largest e-waste dumping site in the world.”
E-waste, or electronic waste, consists of everything from scrapped TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners to that old desktop computer that may be collecting dust in your closet.
Many of these gadgets were initially manufactured in China. Through a strange twist of global economics, much of this electronic junk returns to China to die.
Dealing with Printed Circuit Board\Electronic waste the nanotech way
PCB Boards can be pulverized to nanoparticles to recoup valuable metals, polymers and oxides, affirms latest research.
PCB Boards are best recycled by pulverizing them into nanosized particles to simply restore significant constituents like polymers, oxides and valuable metals, declare Indian specialists.
The fresh method, explained in a scientific study publicized in Materials Today in March, is scalable and environment-friendly, claimed professionals from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and the Rice University in Houston, US.
In the research study, the professionals followed the rule that ultra-low temps make materials fragile and are very easy to pulverise and separate.
They placed a PCB Board in a rotating cylinder with temps brought down to minus 119 degrees Celsius before crashing it with steel balls to destroy it into nanoparticles which were then spread in water.
The nanoparticles could be put to diverse uses, the professionals said. They could be added to polymer composites improving them, utilized in 3D printing or in the manufacturing of polymer powder-based paints.
Metallic nanoparticles could be re-cycled after purification by widely recognized approaches.
“With some initial sorting, the method is able to handle the majority of PCB Boards, says Kamanio Chattopadhyay, research guide, professor at IISc and an author of the study.
Though the technology is still in the lab stage, the research team is already cooperating with an industry to confirm its scalability and effectiveness.
Read more, http://eco-business.com/news/dealing-with-e-waste-the-nanotech-way/