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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Feb 17;49(4):2425-33. doi: 10.1021/es5055786. Epub 2015 Jan 27.

Method for efficient recovery of high-purity polycarbonates from electronic waste.

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School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University , West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2100, United States.


More than one million tons of polycarbonates from waste electrical and electronic equipment are consigned to landfills at an increasing rate of 3-5% per year. Recycling the polymer waste should have a major environmental impact. Pure solvents cannot be used to selectively extract polycarbonates from mixtures of polymers with similar properties. In this study, selective mixed solvents are found using guidelines from Hansen solubility parameters, gradient polymer elution chromatography, and solubility tests. A room-temperature sequential extraction process using two mixed solvents is developed to recover polycarbonates with high yield (>95%) and a similar purity and molecular weight distribution as virgin polycarbonates. The estimated cost of recovery is less than 30% of the cost of producing virgin polycarbonates from petroleum. This method would potentially reduce raw materials from petroleum, use 84% less energy, reduce emission by 1-6 tons of CO2 per ton of polycarbonates, and reduce polymer accumulation in landfills and associated environmental hazards.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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