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Waste Manag. 2018 Nov;81:138-147. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2018.10.002. Epub 2018 Oct 9.

Disentanglement of random access memory cards to regenerate copper foil: A novel thermo-electrical approach.

Author information

1
Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre (SMaRT Centre), School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney 2052, Australia. Electronic address: k.ulman@student.unsw.edu.au.
2
Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre (SMaRT Centre), School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney 2052, Australia. Electronic address: a.ghose@unsw.edu.au.
3
Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre (SMaRT Centre), School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney 2052, Australia. Electronic address: s.maroufi@unsw.edu.au.
4
Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre (SMaRT Centre), School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney 2052, Australia. Electronic address: i.mansuri@unsw.edu.au.
5
Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre (SMaRT Centre), School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney 2052, Australia. Electronic address: veena@unsw.edu.au.

Abstract

This paper reports the development of a novel process combining thermal and electrical treatments, which are optimised to provide efficient recovery of copper foil from Random Access Memory cards (RAMs). A primary thermal transformation at 900 °C facilitates a highly efficient recovery of copper foils from RAMs during the secondary processing in the electrical fragmenter, using only 10 pulses at 150 kV. The process yield was 98% and inductively coupled plasma (ICP) analysis showed that the copper foils had 98% purity. X-ray diffraction (XRD) confirmed the presence of copper in a crystalline face-centred cubic (FCC) form. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) - energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analysis of the foils assisted in understanding the underlying mechanism of electrical separation. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) gave a new perspective on the regeneration of copper foils wherein new copper grains depicted a ribbon like growth pattern. The copper foils had an electrical conductivity similar to that of commercially available pure copper sheets. Thus, the mechanism of thermo-electrical transformation was studied in detail and regenerated copper foils of high electrical conductivity were afforded from end-of-life RAMs.

KEYWORDS:

Copper recovery; Random access memory (RAM) cards; Recycling; Thermo-electrical treatment

PMID:
30527030
DOI:
10.1016/j.wasman.2018.10.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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