The concept of the project HYDROPCB: An integrated method of hydrometallurgical metal recovery and biological waste water treatment towards zero discharge.


The concept of the project HYDROPCB: An integrated method of hydrometallurgical metal recovery and biological waste water treatment towards zero discharge.

Karamoutsos, A. Stergiou, E. Remoundaki, S. Agatzini – Leonardou, G.N. Anastassakis, P. Oustadakis, P. Kousi, A. Hatzikioseyian, P. Tsakiridis, M. Tsezos. 6th International Conference on Industrial and Hazardous Waste Management, September 4-7, 2018, Crete, Greece.

Key words: WEEE, PCB, hydrometallurgy, copper, tin, precious metals

SUMMARY: The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) are produced worldwide 2-3 times faster than any other waste category [1]. Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are the most valuable parts of WEEE and are classified under “Information and telecommunications equipment” [2, 3]. Most of electronic products include more than one PCB. The total quantity of metals in PCBs, including Cu, Ag, Au, Sn, etc., often reaches 20% w/w. In other EU countries, a new sector of metallurgy is already developed aiming at recovering these metals mainly based on pyrometallurgy. Nevertheless, hydrometallurgy provides interesting perspectives over pyrometallurgy as it is less energy intensive and more environmentally friendly. Moreover, it is more cost-efficient for low-capacity plants. The latter is important for the domestic industry from an economic point of view as it allows the recovery of metals from companies that collect and separate PCBs.

In this paper is presented the concept of the project HYDROPCB on the hydrometallurgical treatment of PCBs for the extraction of valuable metals. The project has been selected for funding by the Greek General Secretariat for Research and Technology (European Union, European Regional Development Fund, ESPA, Partnership Agreement, 2014-2020, EPAnEK, 2014-2020, Operational Programme: Competitiveness, Entrepreneursphip, Innovation). It will start before the end of 2018 and will last for 3 years. The scope of the Project is the design, set up and operation of a pilot plant for the recovery of Cu, Ag, Au and Sn from PCBs via hydrometallurgical processes. Wastewater treatment for the removal of soluble metals by biotechnological process will be also implemented on pilot scale for first time in Greece. The unit will also include the management of solid residues with a prospective of zero waste.

BIANATT, Ecoreset and the School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens, in the frame of HYDROPCB, will develop a process in pilot scale which complies with the contemporary priority of circular economy in the sector of metals production. The School collaborates with the aforementioned Companies to contribute original research results, which will originate from the collaboration of three different Laboratories with expertise on the topics of the current research, for the design of a flow sheet of an integrated hydrometallurgical and biotechnological treatment scheme of PCBs. The design and construction of the pilot plant will be based on this flow sheet.

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