Reclamation of Gallium, Indium and Rare-Earth Elements from Photovoltaics, Solid-State Lighting and Electronics Waste
Prospective global supply and demand for gallium, indium and other key metals show an increasing discrepancy, amongst others due to the explosive growth of green technologies such as photovoltaic (PV) and solid-state lighting (SSL). While their primary production is highly controlled by a few countries, recycling systems to reclaim these materials from discarded products are not yet in place. This makes Europe susceptible for the provision of materials that are crucial for meeting policies on energy saving and renewability, as well as challenges the further development of the concerned industrial sectors. Hence there is a strong need to establish recycling systems for PV, SSL and other electronic waste and capitalize on these as yet unexploited and growing deposits of key materials. The bottlenecks are in the disconnection and sorting of the parts with the targeted materials from the waste and in the release, concentration and purification of the reclaimed metals. More in particular, the concerned materials tend to be used as compounds (gallium arsenide, gallium nitride, indium tin oxide) rather than in their elemental form and to be applied as thin layers on substrates in overall very low amounts.
Objectives of the project are
- technological solutions that relieve current bottlenecks in the recycling of gallium, indium and rare-earth elements, and
- demonstration of their application potential by means of a pilot implementation in an industrial setting.
The project is to result in separation methods for electronic assemblies that reduce manual work (>80% automation) as well as in subsequent recovery methods that yield recycled materials of commercial-grade quality (>99-99.99%, depending on the element), apt to fit an industrial context and being environmentally compliant. To this end, (thermal) disconnection methods, part recognition methods and hydrometallurgical refining processes will be developed. Impact assessments will also be included.
The project includes the investigation of image-based recognition processes for electronic parts and vision-based approaches for recycling-process optimization. Concretely CVL conducts basic and technological research on various approaches to identify and separate relevant parts by visual features, 3D features and text-based methods.
The RECLAIM project will be performed as subcontractor in cooperation with
- Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek TNO
- CogVis Software and Consulting GmbH
- Optoelectronica – 2001 SA
- Optisort AB
- Indumetal Recycling, S. A.
- Relight s.r.l.
- Coolrec bv
- Técnicas Reunidas, S.A.
- Ondeo Industrial Solutions bv
- Francisco Albero, S.A.
- Österreichische Gesellschaft für System- und Automatisierungstechnik
Pramerdorfer C., Kampel M. “PCB Recognition Using Local Features for Recycling Purposes”, Proc. 10th International Conference on Computer Vision Theory and Applications, pp. 71-78, Berlin, Germany, March 2015.
Pramerdorfer C., Kampel M. “A Dataset for Computer-Vision-Based PCB Analysis”, Proc. 14th IAPR International Conference on Machine Vision Applications, pp. 378-381, Tokyo, Japan, May 2015.
Kleber F., Kampel M. “Pre-Analysis of Printed Circuit Boards based on Multispectral Imaging for Vision Based Recognition of Electronics Waste”, Proc. 13th International Conference on Environmental and Natural Resources (ICENRE), Miami, USA, March 2015
Kleber F., Pramerdorfer C., Wetzinger E., Kampel M. “Optical Sensor Evaluation for Vision Based Recognition of Electronics Waste”, Journal of Environmental Science and Development (IJESD), Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 2015
Kleber F., Pramerdorfer C., Kampel M., Comanesco B., Stanciu E. “Chemical Analysis and Computer Vision Based Recognition of Electronics Waste”, Proc. of Going Green-Care Innovation 2014, Vienna, Austria, November 2014