The basic principle of big data for precious metals contained in electronic components is separating a variety of different precious metals from e-waste components using precise metal stripping technologies and using big data to keep systematic records and serve as a basis for evaluating the results of product recycling. It can even serve as an index for product manufacturing cost estimates.
In order to realize this kind of achievement, it is necessary to change the overall recycling process for e-waste, and more importantly, it is necessary to have advanced stripping technologies to serve as the foundation for data development. To this end, UWin Nanotech Co., Ltd. provides a key precious metal green recycling solution.
Environmental Protection – the Foundation of Advanced Stripping Technology
The traditional method of recycling precious metals from motherboards generally involves breaking and burning or dissolving in the high corrosive acid solution(aqua regia); however, this kind of method not only yields poor recycling results but also can only be used to obtain specified precious metals. The procedure also produces severe air pollution and even discharges toxic waste water, which produces immeasurable harm to the environment and people’s physical health.
More importantly, this type of method is incapable of producing accurate records of the recycled materials to be used in the analysis of the benefits and costs of future precious metals recycling.
Unlike the traditional methods, UWin Nanotech's method is an automated and environmentally-friendly stripping procedure that is not harmful to the materials and rapidly strips components and wafers from boards while properly classifying the materials. In the end, this environmentally-friendly method is used in the efficient individual extraction of precious metals, such as gold, silver, palladium, copper, and tin. The recycling data is then accurately recorded to serve as reference values for subsequent recycling of materials and product manufacturing.
An important key to this environmental recycling process is the capacity to classify components step by step, simplify them, and yield accurate recycling data. Taking precious metals recycling from smart phones as an example, UWin Nanotech's environmental recycling procedure can obtain data about the recycled metal content for each kilogram of recycled mobile phone panels.
The procedure is as follows:
1. Tin removal: isolation of chips and components
Smart phones are very high-precision electronic products, and they utilize large amounts of semiconductor components which contain large quantities of precious metals content. However, the difficulty is that due to the light volumes of mobile phone handsets, the components are all welded onto the boards. Therefore, the soldering first must be stripped off in order to obtain the chips and components before carrying out accurate and efficient precious metal recycling.
In order to completely obtain the components from mobile phone motherboards while also effectively recycling the tin soldering, UWin Nanotech uses their own patented environmental tin stripping solution – SnST-550A in conjunction with an automated machine that they designed – the Barrel One. This enables them to process smartphone panels according to weight batches and place the tin soldering into the solution at the same time.
After the solution is used and after the tin stripping passes through simple filter, the high density tin sediment can be isolated.
2. Sorting: Components are sorted into different categories
After tin stripping, chips and components can be easily removed from the boards and further sorting can be carried out.
Because the precious metals used in different components are not uniform, recycling the precious metals requires the utilization of different tin stripping solutions. Furthermore, there are also different manufacturing processes for different components; therefore, they are handled using different recycling methods.
In accordance with the components' materials and composition, they can be sorted into boards, BGA, IC, SIM card connectors, multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC), other components, and other connectors.
3. Stripping metals: Environmentally friendly and efficient recycling of precious metals
Following the proper classification of the components, the precious metals are recycled in accordance with their respective suitable handling procedures and metal stripping solutions.
Taking PCB boards as an example, because gold materials are used in its circuit plating, it is necessary to utilize UWin Nanotech's UW-860G Gold stripper to recycle the gold in the boards. In addition, the processing method entails stripping the metals through wet soaking, and the PCB boards must be soaked in the non-toxic and non-polluting UW-860G stripping solution to remove the gold coating before finally recovering the gold from the solution.
For BGA chips, because its outer layers are plastic, a pulverizing method is first used to convert the wafers into powder, and then the gold is extracted from the powder using the UW-860G Gold stripper.
4. Data Collection: Diverse and accurate precious metals recycling data
Through suitable processing procedures, precious metals can be completely recycled from smartphone panels and components, which generates extremely valuable precious metals recycling data, including quantities and values.
In accordance with UWin Nanotech's implementation, 0.402 grams of gold, 0.844 grams of silver, 0.0161 grams of palladium, 71.6 grams of tin, and 245.6 grams of copper can be recycled from one kilogram of smartphone e-waste, and according to this conversion each ton of mobile phone e-waste yields a value of US$21,400.
Suitable for all types of electronic products
This set of procedures and solutions is not only suitable for use on smartphones. Wherever there is an electronic device, it can be effectively recycled through these methods to obtain its proprietary precious metal recycling value.
UWin Nanotech also carries out precious metal recycling data analysis for old CRT TVs. Unlike smart phones, traditional televisions utilize high wattage currents and the processing wattage is also high; therefore, the parts on their boards are primarily resistors and capacitors followed by chips and components.
After removing the tin-stripped components and undergoing recycling treatments for each of the precious metals, UWin Nanotech has calculated that 0.0243 g of gold, 0.3163 g of silver, 0.003 g of palladium, 42.66 g of tin, and 128 g of copper can be recycled from every kilogram of traditional television e-waste. Every ton of traditional television e-waste thus yields a recycling value of US$2,638, which is far higher than the direct selling value of US$1,100.
Reversing the value of recycling and manufacturing
The uses and value of this type of precious metals recycling data are unlimited. It has broken through the singular line of thinking about recycling precious metals from e-waste for sale or reuse and expanded the evaluation of precious metals recycling into more directions and even into the business thought of government metal recycling, environmental protection policy, and manufacturers' analyses of their competitors and product costs.
In terms of applications for the precious metals recycling industry, after calculating the recycling value of each type of electronic product's e-waste, its recycling sequence can be assessed and a policy can be determined and adjusted in accordance with market prices in real time in order to obtain the maximum economic benefits.
From the perspective of each country's government, having precious metals recycling data enables them to explore the value of e-waste contained in their cities and enact policies and regulations based on this knowledge. While eliminating electronic waste, they can also increase national mineral resources.
For the perspective of manufacturers, having precious metals recycling data enables them to comprehensively understand the amount of value that can be yielded though the recycling of waste products. This can serve as a future production reference and even become a part of the manufacturing cost. For companies in businesses that are sensitive about the cost of raw materials, it is an unprecedented change.
“At present we are still continuing to develop applications for this kind of precious metals recycling data, and we anticipate that it will bring about more benefits for companies and the environment,” said Kenny Hsu, Managing Director of Uwin Nanotech.
“In addition to analyzing experiments aimed at carrying out recycling for various devices, we are also recording the metal content of each company's products to enable this long hidden data about precious metals content to be known to the world.”