The Institute of Circuit Technology Autumn Seminar
October 3, 2019
Recognised for many years in the printed circuit industry for his outstanding contribution to science and technology—both academically and practically—as well as for his environmental awareness and commitment, Professor Martin Goosey drew delegates’ attention to the finite supply of key raw materials to the electronics industry. Particularly, he emphasised the scarcity of platinum-group metals (PGMs), the growing global demand, and the importance of recovering and recycling these materials to bridge the increasing gap between supply and demand.
Goosey had a long-standing interest in recovering materials from PCBs and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Indeed, I remember him chairing the Environmental Working Group of the Printed Circuit Interconnection Federation, studying opportunities for PCB recycling over twenty years ago. More recently, changes in technology have been driving the demand for critical raw materials. Examples include the move from CRT towards LCD and OLED displays, the replacement of incandescent lighting with LED, the evolution of battery technology from nickel-cadmium through nickel-metal-hydride to lithium-ion, and the transition of vehicle propulsion systems from the internal combustion engine to battery power.
Europe had been estimated to have the highest annual demand of PGMs in the world—40 tonnes, worth over 1100 million Euros—and globally, there was currently an annual shortfall of about 20 tonnes between demand and what could be supplied from primary sources. And the shortfall was forecast to continue to grow. End-of-life recycling became even more relevant, especially considering that the concentration of PGMs could be at least 100 times greater in electronics wastes than in natural ores. The traditional method was to shred the waste and burn it; there was an urgent need to develop viable methods for recovering valuable materials at end of life.
Further, Goosey gave an introduction to the PLATIRUS Project—Recovery of Critical Raw Materials from WEEE—funded by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. His company, Env-Aqua Solutions Ltd., was one of 12 partners representing industry, research, and academic organisations across the value chain. The objective of the PLATIRUS Project was to help bridge the supply-demand gap of PGMs in Europe by developing and introducing novel secondary raw materials to the recovery supply chains of automotive catalysts, mining, and electronic wastes. The project aimed to develop a miniaturised recovery process for platinum-group metals based on selection and optimisation of a cost-effective combination of advanced hydro-metallurgy, iono-metallurgy, supercritical CO2 extraction, solvo-metallurgy, pyro-metallurgy, hydro-metallurgy, and electro-winning technologies, and to upscale the process to industrially relevant levels.
Apart from the obvious advantages of bridging the supply-demand gap and reducing Europe’s dependence on global PGM supply chains, the PLATIRUS Project offered potential benefits in reducing energy costs and environmental impacts as well as providing solutions requiring lower capital investment than centralised refineries and maximising the exploitation of local waste sources. The work of the PLATIRUS Project was due to be completed and the final report published in October 2020.
Read more here:
03 Oct 2019