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For plastics-metals-mixtures from electronic waste

L. Tange, Eurobrom DSBG & EFRA tangel@eurobrom.icl-ip.com N. Mayne, PlasticsEurope neil.mayne@plasticseurope.org F. E. Mark, Dow Europe fmark@dow.com C. Hagelken & J. Brusselaers , Umicore Precious Metals Refining christian.hagelueken@eu.umicore.com

The integrated smelter

Integrated metal smelters enable the simultaneous recovery of a large range of elements from WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). This comprises precious metals like gold, silver and palladium, special metals (e.g. indium or antimony) and base metals (e.g. copper, tin, lead). The recovery of these rare and valuable elements is by far the largest ecological footprint in the end-of-life management of such equipment. Plastic rich fractions from WEEE with residual metals or small electronic devices (e.g. mobile phones, laptop computers etc.) can be used as feed for integrated smelters, enabling recovery of metals present, elimination of flame retardants and other plastics additives, and utilisation of the plastics hydrocarbon content as an energy source and as a reducing agent for the smelter, partially replacing the consumption of coke. A full scale trial was conducted at Umicore's integrated smelter in order to assess whether WEEE plastics containing flame retardants affected smelter performance or emissions.

E-scrap recycling (continued)

200 Million Euro investment (1997-2003), 25% of it for EHS Extensive flue gas cleaning system resulting in very low emissions: dust < 1 mg/Nm3 metals < 0.01 mg/Nm3 dioxins < 0.005 ng/Nm3 total organic carbon (TOC) < 2 mg/Nm3 HCl < 10 mg/Nm3 HF, HBr < 1 mg/Nm3 NOx < 500 mg/Nm3 SO2 < 1700 mg/Nm3 and < 1000 mg/Nm3 with double absorption, to be build in 2005 sulphur is recovered as sulphuric acid heat recovery for high pressure steam production recovery of Cu, Pb, Sn, Ni, Se, Te, As, Sb, In, Bi

Pilot trial
September 2004: IsaSmelt furnace fed with 250 t of mixed plastic rich material from WEEE with residual metals: used to partially substitute coke as reducing agent and energy source comparison between operation with ... ... zero plastics input plus 4,5% coke (blank run for 4 days continuous = feed free of WEEE plastics or circuit boards) ... 6% WEEE plastics and 1% coke (test run for 5 days continuous). All other components of the feed were kept unchanged over the 9 day period. analysis of impact from flame retarded plastics on emissions from process and plant (such as dioxin PXDD/F and heavy metal emissions) mass balance for elements contained in flame retardants (bromine, antimony, phosphorus, aluminium) based on monitoring of feed flows, flue gases, gas treatment residuals, slag, recovered metals assessment of impact on process operation and of economic impact
Steam production from off gas treatment increased during the trial run

Flow chart of Umicores integrated smelter plant, Hoboken, Belgium, used for this trial

RESULTS & CONCLUSIONS E-scrap recycling at Umicore Precious Metals Refining

Plant operating at Hoboken near Antwerp/Belgium, treatment of 250,000 t/y precious metals containing feeds Process based on complex lead/copper/nickel metallurgy to recover precious-, base- and special metals. Refined metals are sold back to the market. Smelter furnace (IsaSmelt technology) uses coke as reducing agent and fuel as energy source. Globally leading end-processor of e-scrap such as printed circuit boards, electronic components, mobile phones For the treatment of flame retardant plastic rich fractions from WEEE with residual metals in Umicore's integrated smelter: Smelter operation or performance is not negatively affected Antimony contained in the feed as flame retardant is recovered Partial substitution of coke as reducing agent and fuel. Compensation of possible effects from additives and flame retardants by an extensive offgas and wastewater purification system. Capacity limit by total amount of plastics input. For Umicore plant 15,000 t/y metal containing WEEE plastics or 45,000 t/y circuit boards (which include ca. 25% plastic). In practice, combinations of these will result, driven by economic treatment conditions.

More information:
www.cefic-efra.com www.preciousmetals.umicore.com

*This project follows on from previous studies carried out by PlasticsEurope concerning energy recovery from plastics in precious metals smelters: Plastics recovery from waste electrical & electronic equipment in non-ferrous metal processes (F. Mark, T. Lehner, July 2000)

Umicore Precious Metals Refining www.preciousmetals.umicore.com PlasticsEurope (Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe) www.plasticseurope.org EFRA (European Flame Retardant Association) www.cefic-efra.com NVMP (Netherlands Association for Disposal of Metalectro Products) www.nvmp.nl IAOIA (International Antimony Oxide Industry Association) www.IAOIA.org