University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Sustainable Materials and Recovery Technologies (SMaRT)

Presenter Information

Lucas BertucciFollow

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Major

Chemical Engineering

Minor

Computer Science, Mathematics, Photography

Institution

University of Kentucky

KY House District #

58

KY Senate District #

20

Department

Mining Engineering

Abstract

The incorporation of computers into daily life has led to an increase in electronic waste (e-waste) which has become a global issue. The purpose of this study is to develop a process of recycling copper from general e-waste including circuit boards, wires, and other computer parts. Previous efforts from this field in recycling e-waste have involved energy intensive and environmentally harmful methods.

Therefore, this research seeks to instead utilize green chemistry in the form of an ammoniacal-alkaline solution to recover copper through a coupled leaching and electrowinning system. The goals of this project were to validate the feasibility of the process fundamentals, confirm that the design is able to be scaled up, and optimize the recovery of copper. This was achieved through the design and construction of three lab scale systems with each iteration seeking to improve upon the implementation of the previous system. The result was the production of copper plates with a purity of 99.99%.

This approach to recycling e-waste reduces the losses and inefficiencies that hinder other methods from being sustainable. Furthermore, the outcome of this project has proven that the process has strong potential for economic feasibility and positive environmental impact.

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Sustainable Materials and Recovery Technologies (SMaRT)

The incorporation of computers into daily life has led to an increase in electronic waste (e-waste) which has become a global issue. The purpose of this study is to develop a process of recycling copper from general e-waste including circuit boards, wires, and other computer parts. Previous efforts from this field in recycling e-waste have involved energy intensive and environmentally harmful methods.

Therefore, this research seeks to instead utilize green chemistry in the form of an ammoniacal-alkaline solution to recover copper through a coupled leaching and electrowinning system. The goals of this project were to validate the feasibility of the process fundamentals, confirm that the design is able to be scaled up, and optimize the recovery of copper. This was achieved through the design and construction of three lab scale systems with each iteration seeking to improve upon the implementation of the previous system. The result was the production of copper plates with a purity of 99.99%.

This approach to recycling e-waste reduces the losses and inefficiencies that hinder other methods from being sustainable. Furthermore, the outcome of this project has proven that the process has strong potential for economic feasibility and positive environmental impact.