Telekom project completed successfully New process for tantalum recovery in use
After trying out different manual and automatic methods, a thermal process was chosen in the end: The printed boards are heated, so that the assembly components can be removed carefully. The separated component mixture is then screened and sorted automatically with the help of state-of-the-art technology.
First of all, extensive tests were performed on a laboratory and technical centre scale, above all to investigate the unloading behaviour of different printed board types and to determine the process parameters for the technical implementation. At the same time, a plant concept was developed in several development steps. In addition to the technical design of the process steps, health and safety and environmental protection regulations were also considered and the investment and operating costs were compared with the income. The first plant development stage was then realised at Electrocycling.
This plant is currently used to separate out tantalum capacitors. Tantalum is acquired from coltan ore, which is considered to be a conflict raw material. There are purchasers for the cleanly separated capacitors, who recover tantalum from them. The recovery of other metals, especially tin, is still being tested. The new process can also be used to process printed boards from other sources. Electrocycling thus has a plant in which tantalum can be recovered from used printed boards on more than mere laboratory scale.