You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

PIO's microfactory may help tackle e-waste hazard

Topics
Environment

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

An Indian-origin scientist in Australia has launched the world's first microfactory that can transform the components from electronic waste items such as smartphones and laptops into valuable materials for re-use.

According to Veena Sahajwalla, a professor at the University of New South Wales, the e-waste microfactory has the potential to reduce the rapidly growing problem of vast amounts of electronic waste causing environmental harm and going into landfill.

It can also turn many types of consumer waste such as glass, plastic and timber into commercial materials and products, she said.

For instance, from e-waste, computer circuit boards can be transformed into valuable metal alloys such as copper and tin while glass and plastic from e-devices can be converted into micromaterials used in industrial grade ceramics and plastic filaments for 3D printing.

"Our e-waste microfactory and another under development for other consumer waste types offer a cost-effective solution to one of the greatest environmental challenges of our age," said Sahajwalla, who earned her BTech degree in metallurgical engineering from IIT Kanpur in 1986.

"Using our green manufacturing technologies, these microfactories can transform waste where it is stockpiled and created, enabling local businesses and communities to not only tackle local waste problems but to develop a commercial opportunity from the valuable materials that are created," she said.

Sahajwalla said microfactories present a solution to burning and burying waste items that contain materials which can be transformed into value-added substances and products to meet existing and new industry and consumer demands.

The modular microfactories can operate on a site as small as 50 square metres and can be located wherever waste may be stockpiled.

A microfactory is one or a series of small machines and devices that uses patented technology to perform one or more functions in the reforming of waste products into new and usable resources.

The e-waste microfactory that reforms discarded computers, mobile phones and printers has a number of small modules for this process and fits into a small site, said Sahajwalla.

The discarded devices are first placed into a module to break them down. The next module may involve a special robot for the identification of useful parts, she said.

Another module then involves using a small furnace which transforms these parts into valuable materials by using a precisely controlled temperature process developed via extensive research.

These transformed materials include metal alloys and a range of micromaterials, Sahajwalla said.

These can be used in industrial-grade ceramics while the specific quality plastics from computers, printers and other discarded sources can be put through another module that produces filaments suitable for 3D-printing applications.

The metal alloys can be used as metal components for new or existing manufacturing processes, she said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Mon, April 09 2018. 12:35 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU