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Reducing the environmental footprint of electronics manufacturing

PP Recycling Ltd.
PP Recycling’s business idea is based on developing and commercialising technologies and solutions that enable as many of the valuable raw materials contained in hazardous waste as possible to be recycled and reused.

The initial focus of PP Recycling, established in 1999, has been on developing an effective and economical recycling method for the etching solution waste generated when manufacturing circuit boards. Following an extensive R&D effort, the company opened its first industrial-scale pilot plant utilising the company’s patented REDIMAC process at the Green Tech Center in Padasjoki in southern Finland in 2008.

The technology and services on offer at the facility, which is currently capable of processing 1,500 t/a of hazardous liquid effluent, are being continuously expanded to handle other waste streams, such as oily water and waste glycols – all based on the idea that the overall cost and environmental footprint of treatment can be minimised by capturing the valuable raw materials included in waste as effectively as possible.

PP Recycling’s REDIMAC technology offers an ideal way of dealing with the most problematic waste fractions generated when manufacturing circuit boards.

The company’s next major step is set to be exporting recycling systems and services based on the REDIMAC process to Asia, and China in particular, where rapidly expanding circuit board production is likely to cause major environmental problems if the hazardous liquid waste generated by the industry is not treated effectively.

Generates no waste of its own

REDIMAC is the first process to be patented by PP Recycling and enables pure hydrochloric and nitric acid, together with metal salts, to be recovered from the acidic solutions containing metal generated when manufacturing circuit boards and during various surface treatment processes.

The process does not generate any waste fractions of its own and is capable of capturing up to 100% of the raw materials contained in a solution.

The distillation process uses sulphuric acid, together with copper chloride in the case of copper-rich effluent. The acids in the solution being treated are evaporated and then condensed back to liquid form by cooling them. Non-volatile impurities, such as dissolved metals, remain in the base solution and can be crystallised and filtered for recycling purposes. The filtrate is returned to the process.

To date, PP Recycling’s pilot plant has utilised the technology primarily for treating etching solutions containing copper, selling the pure hydrochloric acid and high-quality copper sulphate produced to customers in Finland and abroad. The technology also has excellent potential for treating tin stripper and the acidic solutions originating from pickling baths.

> Janne Eskola
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)