The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), along with partners In2Tec Ltd (UK) and Gwent Electronic Materials Ltd, have developed a printed circuit board (PCB) whose components can be easily separated by immersion in hot water.
The work was part of the ReUSE project, funded by the UK government's Technology Strategy Board. The aim of the ReUSE (Reuseable, Unzippable, Sustainable Electronics) project was to increase the recyclability of electronic assemblies.
The partners designed, developed and tested a series of unzippable polymeric layers which, while withstanding prolonged thermal cycling and damp heat stressing, allow the assemblies to be easily separated at end-of-life into their constituent parts, after immersion in hot water.
The project demonstrated a 90% recyclable inverter circuit for an electroluminescent lamp.
Review: Take a look at the video – it’s impressive (you can also find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzFR4mPI34E).
According to Nanowerk, a DTI-funded report found that around 85% of all PCB scrap board waste goes to landfill, with around 70% being non-metallic content with little opportunity for recycling, so this could be a major advance, if it works commercially.