EAGER: Understanding and Developing A Supercritical Fluid Process for Recycling of Printed Circuit Boards

Project: Research project

Project Details


Widespread use of electronic equipments and shortening of product life cycles have created the challenging task of dealing with the ever-increasing quantity of obsolete electronic equipments. The huge amount of electronic wastes (E-wastes) generated each year and the lack of established methodologies capable of handling the increasing volumes of the E-wastes pose a severe environmental threat. Among the challenges to successful electronic equipment recycling, printed circuit board (PCB, primary components in every type of electronic product) recycling is recognized as one of the most difficult problems because of their complex construction and complicated materials composition. The current PCB recycling industry uses traditional metallurgical technologies in which the fiber reinforced polymer matrix materials are incinerated. Although great effort has been made in the traditional metallurgical technologies for increasing the recycling efficiency for the end-of-life electronic products, the PCB recycling industry still faces the problems of poor environmental performance and limited economic returns. This exploratory project focuses on understanding and developing a supercritical fluid (SCF) process for recycling of printed circuit boards (PCBs). We will first systematically investigate the delamination/degradation mechanisms of the bonding materials in printed circuit boards under supercritical fluid processes. Although literatures document the applications of supercritical fluids in polymer synthesis and processing, there is limited existing work in revealing the degradation of polymeric materials in supercritical fluids. In addition, we will incorporate the obtained fundamental knowledge to test the feasibility and develop a supercritical fluid process to recycle PCBs at low temperatures and pressures. The proposed work has a high transformative potential.
Effective start/end date11/1/0910/31/11


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $105,987.00


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