Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling stands as a crucial opportunity to get critical resources while managing a waste stream in accordance with the circular economy principles. Recently, a two-step hydrometallurgical process has been successfully investigated to treat the dust originating from the mechanical processing of WEEE. The best operating conditions selected in this study were used to further investigate the recovery of precious metals and critical elements, achieving extraction yields of approximately 77.7 % and 53.1 %, respectively; base metals (i.e. aluminum, zinc, copper, .) were also leached from dust up to 96 %. A life cycle approach was also applied to preliminary assess and compare the potential environmental impact of the proposed process with respect to the manufacturing process of the virgin material. The analysis focused on standard environmental indicators (i.e. global warming potential, acidification, …), human toxicity and eco-toxicty and a set of five different characterisation models for abiotic depletion of resources. Four scenarios, differing for allocation criteria (mass/economic) and the possible recovery of metals along with REEs, were compared. Among the recovered products, the greates potential benefits were found in the case of rare earth elements, in the scenario considering the complete recovery of base and precious metals and performing an economic allocation. Impacts on abiotic depletion and toxicity account for the highest benefits from maerial recovery. Nevertheless, the recovery of sulphuric acid would allow a further reduction also in other impacts, strengthening the potential competitiveness of REE recovery against the manufacturing of virgin materials.

The hydrometallurgical recovery of critical and valuable elements from WEEE shredding dust: Process effectiveness in a life cycle perspective

Gallo M.;Moreschi L.;Del Borghi A.
2024-01-01

Abstract

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling stands as a crucial opportunity to get critical resources while managing a waste stream in accordance with the circular economy principles. Recently, a two-step hydrometallurgical process has been successfully investigated to treat the dust originating from the mechanical processing of WEEE. The best operating conditions selected in this study were used to further investigate the recovery of precious metals and critical elements, achieving extraction yields of approximately 77.7 % and 53.1 %, respectively; base metals (i.e. aluminum, zinc, copper, .) were also leached from dust up to 96 %. A life cycle approach was also applied to preliminary assess and compare the potential environmental impact of the proposed process with respect to the manufacturing process of the virgin material. The analysis focused on standard environmental indicators (i.e. global warming potential, acidification, …), human toxicity and eco-toxicty and a set of five different characterisation models for abiotic depletion of resources. Four scenarios, differing for allocation criteria (mass/economic) and the possible recovery of metals along with REEs, were compared. Among the recovered products, the greates potential benefits were found in the case of rare earth elements, in the scenario considering the complete recovery of base and precious metals and performing an economic allocation. Impacts on abiotic depletion and toxicity account for the highest benefits from maerial recovery. Nevertheless, the recovery of sulphuric acid would allow a further reduction also in other impacts, strengthening the potential competitiveness of REE recovery against the manufacturing of virgin materials.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1174555
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