Recycling of electrical scrap Laser goes green

In the recycling process of the »ADIR«-project, the laser performs the non-contact exposure and desoldering of electronics.
In the recycling process of the »ADIR«-project, the laser performs the non-contact exposure and desoldering of electronics.

A new smartphone every year: the amount of electronic waste we produce is growing all the time. What to do with all the garbage? The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is looking for answers.

Since 2015, nine project partners from four countries have been working on the EU project »ADIR - Next generation urban mining - Automated disassembly, separation and recovery of valuable materials from electronic equipment«, how electronics can be dismantled and contained substances can be recovered. The coordinator of the EU project is the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, Germany.

»Inverse production« with laser technology

The project is developing processes with which, for example, old mobile phones and printed circuit boards can be dismantled into their individual components. This will be used to extract valuable raw materials for recycling in new electronics. One of the valuable materials, for example, is tantalum from capacitors. The whole thing works according to the principle of so-called »inverse production«. Hereby, the old electronics are first measured and valuable components are specifically dismantled in order to obtain new, highly enriched substances. The remaining material is then fed into the proven metallurgical processes.

The disassembly into individual parts is to be automated: Laser processes identify the ingredients of the components in real time and desolder or cut out the components without contact. The process allows the recyclable materials to be efficiently recycled on an industrial scale. Laser technology, robotics, camera systems and information technology work together intelligently in the proven dismantling plant.

Event day in Goslar

On May 17th 2019, the project partners will present important results in theory and practice at the »ADIR Demo-Day« in Goslar. In the morning, the ADIR consortium will report on the results of the EU project in the logistics centre of the project partner H.C. Starck Tantalum & Niobium. In the afternoon, the machines and processes developed, will be presented to the specialist audience at the Electrocycling GmbH (ECG) site.