Recovery of valuable materials and raw materials from displays and PCBs

On 20 July 2017 the partners of the project „DISPLAY - Upscale of material Recovery from display Applications and Printed Circuit Boards“ met at the Fraunhofer Project Group IWKS for the kick of meeting. The project is funded by EIT RawMaterials with EU funds of € 1.85 million over a three-year period.

The goal of the project is to develop an innovative process chain from already developed technologies and to reach the industrial production scale in order to recover valuable materials and raw materials from small display devices such as smartphones and tablets as well as printed circuit boards (PCBs). These products are very complex material composites that can contain polymers (25-40%), glass (10-40%) and metals, including critical elements such as indium, gallium, germanium, etc.

There are currently no mechanical or chemical processes that could break down such old products into pure components. Recycling is therefore carried out in blast furnace processes which are able to effectively recover many metals but not polymers, glass and critical elements with low concentrations.

The DISPLAY project intends to supply a technically and economically convincing solution for a material-oriented disassembly of display appliances and PCBs by combining electrohydraulic fragmentation, spectroscopic sorting and the solvent-based CreaSolv® process.

The individual processes currently having the technology readiness level (TRL) 5 (component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment) shall be connected and elevated to TRL 7 (system prototype demonstration in an operational environment). The products to be obtained are high-quality flat glass, engineering plastics like ABS or PA and metal concentrates. The latter will be provided to downstream hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical recovery processes, This approach will increase the overall material recovery and the economy of the recycling process since a much higher percentage of waste is transferred into and sold as secondary raw materials.


The participating project partners at a glance:

  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (project coordinator) with the Project Group IWKS and the Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV
  • SUEZ Groupe, France
  • CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), France
  • ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development), Italy
  • Orange S.A., France