The effect of the above-mentioned leaching reagents on the PCB pieces during the Hydrometallurgy Equipment recycling process has also not been reported. If complete metal recovery can be achieved from large pieces of PCBs, then the remaining board (nonmetallic part) can be easily recycled, which would be difficult if pulverized PCBs were used. In this study, we propose an efficient hydrometallurgical process using large pieces of PCBs rather than pulverized PCBs to simplify the overall recycling (metallic as well as nonmetallic fraction) process. In the proposed process, the waste PCBs were pre-treated to remove the chemical coating present. Then, the PCBs were subjected to an acid leaching process for metal recovery.
The metals from the platinum group are used in many different industries, for example dental, jewelry, and chemicals. Nevertheless, the most important use is based on their catalytic properties. Approximately 50% of platinum and palladium are used as automotive and industrial catalysts. In case of rhodium, an even higher percentage (around 80–90%) is used as an alloying element in the active layer of different catalysts. The high required amount of 300–900 kg of treated ore to obtain approximately 1 g of PGM is responsible for the high prices. On average, the contents in the ore of Pt and Pd are 5–10 times higher than Rh and Ru and around 50 times higher than Ir and Os. Additionally, the regional limitation of ore bodies leads to a strong dependence on mainly South Africa and Russia as PGM suppliers. Based on the strong discrepancy in supply and demand of PGM' s around the world, recycling of catalysts is mandatory and meaningful from the ecological and economical point of view.
Based on the high prices of PGM, the industry is forced to improve the efficiency of catalysts, which is done by improving the wash coat technology. By using rare-earth elements, like cerium oxide, the surface can be increased and the ability to supply oxygen is secured. As a side effect, cerium as an additional critical element is introduced into the recycling circuit of catalytic converters, forming a further valuable component and forming a major challenge for common pyrometallurgical converter recycling.
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