Saturday, January 1, 2011

No. 221: New technology to collect rare metals from mobile phones (January 2, 2011)

Waseda University, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, and Dowa Eco-System developed the technology to collect rare metals from mobile phones. The new technology rolls electronic substrates as if it washes them in a washing machine and sorts out about 50 kinds of parts, and collects rare metals assuming every part as a mineral ore. It opened up the way to reuse over 90% of the rare metals contained in a mobile phone. Currently, about seven million mobile phones are recycled annually in Japan, but only gold and copper are reused now. The electronic substrate of a mobile phone contains about 20 kinds of rare metals, but the current method of fragmentating electronic substrates is not enough to collect rare metals effectively. The new technology to concentrate rare metals by part has rather high collection efficiency. In fact, it successfully collected more than 90% of tantalum from a few kinds of mobile phone parts. It will be possible to collect various rare metals by increasing the number of parts for collection. The development team plans to put the technology into practical used in five years. Supporting organizations include Tohoku University, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation.

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