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New tools to aid in recycling flat-screen monitors, televisions - LED Fluorescent Tube Light Manufa by fdhjkl rfghjtkl





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New tools to aid in recycling flat-screen monitors, televisions - LED Fluorescent Tube Light Manufa by
Article Posted: 08/28/2013
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New tools to aid in recycling flat-screen monitors, televisions - LED Fluorescent Tube Light Manufa


 
Business,Business News,Business Opportunities
Millions of flat-screen monitors and television sets will soonbecome obsolete, posing environmental hazards, and PurdueUniversity researchers are developing tools to help industryefficiently recycle the products. Liquid crystal displays manufactured before 2009 use cold cathodefluorescent lamps, or CCFLs, to backlight the display. The CCFLdisplays contain mercury, making them hazardous to dispose of orincinerate. "Over the next few years, it is expected that hundreds of millionsof CCFL-backlighted LCDs will retire each year," says Fu Zhao, anassistant professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering andDivision of Environmental and Ecological Engineering.

"Withoutproper treatment, these used LCDs could lead to serious damage tothe environment." Purdue researchers are working to aid industry in recycling thedisplays through a new project funded by the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency's People, Prosperity, and the Planet orP3 program. "We will produce equipment and tools specifically designed todisassemble LCDs with acceptable labor cost while recoveringhigh-value components and reducing environmental hazards," Zhaosays. He is leading the project with Carol Handwerker, ReinhardtSchuhmann Jr.

Professor of Materials Engineering. Electronic products contain hazardous chemicals such as heavymetals and brominated flame retardants. The materials can leach outof landfills into groundwater and streams or be converted into"super toxicants" including dioxin while being incinerated. More than 3 million tons of e-waste were generated in 2007 in theUnited States, with 13.6% collected for recycling and 86.4% goingto landfills and incinerators. Environmental concerns have led 25states to pass laws mandating e-waste recycling.

"Because many states have laws prohibiting disposal of electronicwastes in landfills, used LCDs are likely to be incinerated inlarge-scale capital-intensive facilities or shipped to developingcountries," Zhao says. "Neither scenario is good from asustainability perspective. Incineration is expensive, andmaterials and energy are wasted. Exporting e-wastes to developingcountries damages local environments, harms people's health and isagainst environmental justice." LCD hardware typically has a lifespan of 10 to 20 years. "However, due to rapid technology advances, LCD monitors and TVsare becoming obsolete much faster," Zhao says.

"The lifecycle forproducts is speeding up, in part because people want the latestproducts." Surveys of e-waste collectors and recyclers indicate that LCDmonitors and TVs manufactured four to five years ago have startedshowing up in waste streams. The high cost of e-waste recycling inthe United States and Europe has posed challenges in managing thehigh-tech trash, but new tools to efficiently disassemble LCDpanels could make recycling profitable, he says. "Recycling hundreds of millions of LCDs will create new jobopportunities," Zhao says. The new equipment and tools will be tested by e-waste recyclers,and field data will be collected. The tools will be used to moreeasily remove a monitor's housing and detach circuit boards andmetal frames, then separate polarizing filters, glass, liquidcrystals, and the mercury-containing backlight unit.

"A unique feature is that these new tools allow quick access,separation, and recovery of high value parts and toxicsub-assemblies," Zhao says. An LCD monitor includes the front frame, back cover, metal frame,circuit boards, the liquid crystal subassembly with a drivercircuit and the backlight unit. Electrode patterns are made of alayer of indium tin oxide, or ITO. The backlight unit includes aframe, fluorescent tubes, a prism, a "diffuser," a reflector, and aprotective layer. The liquid crystal subassembly's drive circuithas a gold coating.

"The gold price is currently higher than $50 per gram, and thedrive circuit may contain 1-2 grams of gold," Zhao says. In the past several years, increasing demands from LCD andthin-film solar cell manufacturing have led to the price of indiumrunning from less than $100 per kilogram in 2003 to more than $600per kilogram in 2011. "Therefore, recovering the ITO-coated glass makes business sense,"Zhao says. Because fluorescent tubes in the backlight unit contain mercury,the unit must be removed carefully and then sent for properdisposal.

To access the backlight unit, the front frame has to beremoved first. "Although screw drivers can be used to remove the front frame, thisis not preferred due to potential risks of breaking the backlightunit, which results in mercury release," Zhao says. "To minimizethe probability of breaking the tubes, a case-opening tool willfirst be developed." A different tool will be developed to remove the back cover fromthe metal frame. In 2010, LCD TVs using light emitting diodes as backlights gainedpopularity. The LED-backlighted LCDs contain no toxic substancesand consume 20% to 30% less electricity than the CCFL technology.

"Although the LED monitors don't contain mercury, they are stille-waste and will need to be recycled," Zhao says. "At the sametime, the LED-backlighted monitors contain valuable materials thatwill be cost-effective to recover."
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