It may sound bizarre, but the circuit boards that make your computer work efficiently may be fuelling your car some day, thanks to researchers in Romania and Turkey who have developed a simple, efficient method for recycling printed circuit boards into environmentally-friendly raw materials for use in fuel, plastic, and other useful consumer products.
Increasing computer usage entails with it world's biggest environmental headaches. People do not know what to do with all the discarded circuit boards, which contain high levels of pollutants such as heavy metals and flame retardants that can potentially harm humans.
Thus, researchers are looking for ways to remove these toxins so that these scrap materials can be safely recycled.
For this, Cornelia Vasile and colleagues conducted a new study where they collected printed circuit boards from discarded computers and processed the boards with a combination of high temperatures, catalysts, and chemical filtration.
The researchers said that this processing method enabled them to remove almost all of the toxic substances from the scraps, resulting in oils that can be safely used as fuel or raw materials called feedstocks for a number of consumer products.
The study will be published in the upcoming issue of ACS' Energy and Fuels, a bi-monthly journal.