Recovering metal without destroying the nonmetal matrix using the patented Ronin8 process
Vancouver, BC: Ronin8 Technologies Ltd., an electronic waste recycling company has successfully developed the process to separate metal from the nonmetal matrix using physical processes as an alternative for chemical process that require chemical agents or higher temperature and destroy the nonmetals in the process. The remaining nonmetal fraction, which usually end up in the landfills, can also be recovered in the process for secondary usage and thus provides a closed cycle solution for electronic waste recycling. The preliminary results have been published as a full-length article titled “Characterization of the non-metal fraction of the processed waste printed circuit boards” in the Waste Management Journal and is available online. A part of this research was also presented at the 5th International Conference on Recycling and Waste management, London, UK (March 5th-6th, 2018).
The company has been working with the PhD candidate Amit Kumar and professor Maria Holuszko at the Urban Mining Innovation Center (UMIC) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) for one year to characterize and process the obtained nonmetal fraction for the suitability for secondary use. The results have shown that the separated nonmetal has an energy content of over 15GJ/t and can be used as an energy source. Further testing has confirmed that almost 50-60% of the nonmetal can be recovered with an energy content of over 21GJ/t which is equivalent to the values of dried wood and lignite (lower rank coal). On the other hand, the remaining fraction is fiberglass with low calorific value that can be used as a secondary raw material in construction, paint or insulation. The results have also showed that the nonmetals which are usually landfilled have a high lead leachate concentrate up to 25 mg/L (above the BC landfill cut off concentration of 5 mg/L) and will become potentially toxic if not treated prior to disposal. Another test at the UBC lab has found a potential process to extract the hazardous flame retardants from the circuit board matrix without destroying the fiberglass which could be an alternative for chemical treatments which damage the integrity of the fiberglass rendering them useless for secondary applications.
“Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream with the growth rate of 5% per year around the world, while it is commendable to recover all the metals and remove all toxic compounds before landfilling, recovery and reutilization of non-metal fraction is a way to the future of the electronic waste recycling with the aim to achieve zero waste scenario. This is where the vison of the UMIC and Ronin8 Technologies are coinciding to recycle and reprocess e-waste to save the future” – Dr. Maria Holuszko
The mission of the UMIC is to provide the research, technological, social and legislative platform to the recycling sectors (industry and government) in developed and developing countries to achieve the closed loop zero-waste solution for waste/discarded materials.