November 7, 2017

VTT takes recycling to another level

A potential treasure trove of valuable raw materials.
A potential treasure trove of valuable raw materials.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a new electronic waste recycling concept that makes use of different technologies for more efficient material recovery, including that of critical raw materials.

Traditional mechanical recycling processes are becoming insufficient as products are becoming more complex, with vast amounts of valuable raw materials ending up in a landfill.

VTT’s new recycling concept increases the efficiency of material recovery and reduces the use of virgin minerals and fossil resources. This includes a new gasification technique, which not only separates metals and rare-earth elements from waste, but also organic materials applicable for energy production and plastics.

The new recycling techniques will be put to the test during Tekes’s MINEWEE circular economy experiment taking place in the autumn of 2018. Aalto University is also partaking in the project and will focus on recovering rare-earth elements, while various Finnish waste processing companies and technology suppliers are also involved.

Availability of critical raw materials used extensively in electronics and energy industry products varies on the global market, all the while demand for them continues to increase. VTT’s new recycling concept can potentially contribute towards a solution, as the traditionally difficult process of recycling waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is already the second most important source for these materials.

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