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Metallurgical recovery of metals from electronic waste: A review

TitleMetallurgical recovery of metals from electronic waste: A review
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsCui J, Zhang L
Journal TitleJournal of Hazardous Materials
KeywordsBioleaching, Biosorption, Electronic waste, Metal recovery, Metallurgical process, Precious metals
AbstractWaste electric and electronic equipment, or electronic waste, has been taken into consideration not only by the government but also by the public due to their hazardous material contents. In the detailed literature survey, value distributions for different electronic waste samples were calculated. It is showed that the major economic driver for recycling of electronic waste is from the recovery of precious metals. The state of the art in recovery of precious metals from electronic waste by pyrometallurgical processing, hydrometallurgical processing, and biometallurgical processing are highlighted in the paper. Pyrometallurgical processing has been a traditional technology for recovery of precious metals from waste electronic equipment. However, state-of-the-art smelters are highly depended on investments. Recent research on recovery of energy from PC waste gives an example for using plastics in this waste stream. It indicates that thermal processing provides a feasible approach for recovery of energy from electronic waste if a comprehensive emission control system is installed. In the last decade, attentions have been removed from pyrometallurgical process to hydrometallurgical process for recovery of metals from electronic waste. In the paper, hydrometallurgical processing techniques including cyanide leaching, halide leaching, thiourea leaching, and thiosulfate leaching of precious metals are detailed. In order to develop an environmentally friendly technique for recovery of precious metals from electronic scrap, a critical comparison of main leaching methods is analyzed for both economic feasibility and environmental impact. It is believed that biotechnology has been one of the most promising technologies in metallurgical processing. Bioleaching has been used for recovery of precious metals and copper from ores for many years. However, limited research was carried out on the bioleaching of metals from electronic waste. In the review, initial researches on the topic are presented. In addition, mechanisms and models of biosorption of precious metal ions from solutions are discussed.
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