Environment Technology

IIT Delhi develops a zero-emission solution for e-waste management

IIT Delhi develops a zero-emission solution for e-waste management

Indian Institute of Technology has come up with a revolutionary countermeasure to tackle the menace of electronic waste. IIT Delhi has developed a zero-emission technology for managing and recycling e-waste to wealth which could work wonders in favour of the environment.

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By the way, how many mobile phones have you upgraded in the last two years? The rapidly advancing technology outsmarts itself every day, leading to customers upgrading their gadgets so very often. Any electronic equipment has a very short life span and is chiefly outdone by its own enhanced version. Not many think about, where do all the gadgets end up. Either they are exchanged for a better device or they are disposed of in the trash cans along with the regular garbage. Despite the warning printed on the boxes, most electronic items are discarded irresponsibly. Eventually, they end up in the landfills, raising several other concerns.

Hazards of electronic waste

India is the third-largest producer of electronic waste. Any electronic waste has large quantities of lead, cadmium and chromium along with other chemicals, which are extremely harmful to human health. Unregulated disposal and accumulation of e-waste in landfills pose a serious threat to the environment too, which has its own ways of retribution if taken for granted. With the rising consumerism, the devil of e-waste is only growing to get bigger.

The Chemical engineering department of IIT Delhi in conjunction with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India has eventually developed a sustainable technology to address the menace of this ever-growing e-waste stream. In fact, led by Professor K.K. Pant, the team behind the research, sees electronic waste as an “Urban mine” and is determined to generate wealth from waste.

IIT Delhi develops a zero-emission solution for e-waste management
source: home.iitd.ac.in

Steps of e-waste management by IIT Delhi

The e-waste management process involves three primary steps, namely, Pyrolysis, Separation of metal fraction and Recovery of individual metals. The e-waste is shredded and pyrolyzed to yield liquid and gaseous fuels, leaving behind a metal-rich solid fraction. On further separation, the leftover solid residue is a good, 90-95% pure metal mixture along with some carbonaceous material. The carbonaceous material is converted to aerogel, which is an ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component of the gel is replaced by a gas. The aerogel finds its usage in oil spillage cleaning, dye removal, carbon dioxide capture and supercapacitors. In the concluding step, the metal mixture is subjected to a low-temperature roasting technique, to recover individual metals, such as copper, nickel, lead, zinc, silver and gold. The result is a recovery of nearly 93% copper, 100% nickel, 100% zinc, 100% lead and 50% gold and silver each. The entire method is claimed to be a green process, in which no toxic chemicals are released into the environment.

The team has successfully positioned a pyrolysis plant in the IIT Delhi campus. Office of Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA), Government of India wants to further scale up the solution so an effective e-waste management program can be employed to intercept tonnes of electronic waste spewed each year. Professor K. K. Pant quotes

Electronic waste (e-waste) generation is inevitable and if the problem is not addressed now, it will lead to mountains of solid waste sooner or later. The technology pioneered by our research group is an integrated approach that will provide an environment-friendly solution to treat e-waste with the added advantage of metal recovery and fuel production. The developed technology can be employed for recycling all types of e-waste as well as plastic waste, and it does not emit any toxic chemicals to the environment. Besides providing a sustainable solution for e-waste recycling, the successful implementation of this technology has the potential to generate, a large number of jobs in the waste recycling industry.

source: https://home.iitd.ac.in/news-e-waste.php

We hope that the technology is successfully commercialised soon and provides an upgrade to the paltry e-waste management ecosystem.

Signing off now, stay tuned for similar information about events, which gives us hope of a better world for our future generations. See you all in our next episode.

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