Critical materials (e.g. some specialty metals, coinage metals and rare-earth materials) have a high supply risk, a poor interchangeability, or are vulnerable to other factors (e.g ecological impact of their use) [1,2,3,4,5]. Their extraction from ores is still currently a challenge.
Modern electronic and magnetic devices rely on these metals because of their unique properties. "No technologies is currently able to efficiently recover critical materials from electronic wastes (end of life) or from mining ores (origin of life)." The poor recovery of critical materials has mostly been attributed to the complexity associated with processing mixed materials.
We believe that valuable materials should not end up in a landfill (which are now more concentrated than minerals). By using wastes as a supply stream to manufacture its products, Sep-All intends to modify the dynamic of the markets of materials that are typically produced by mining minerals."
By combining mechanical, chemical and thermal actions on small particles, Sep-All de-mixes critical materials integrated in complex material systems such as mineral or electronic wastes to recover all the constitutive materials.
Our process uses low-carbon footprint liquids, soft acids/bases, non-toxic reagents, low power, and, affordable processing technologies. At the laboratory scale, purities of >99% and almost quantitative (>95%) yields have been obtained in less than 5 hours processing time for polymer-bound magnetic particles (containing rare-earths). Recovery of pure metals (gold, silver, indium and bismuth) from their alloys or other compound mixed systems has been demonstrated at high purity and yield.
Our technology increases the recovery rate of critical materials, is versatile and has a limited environmental impact. We have successfully recovered gold and silver from molecular electronics wastes, neodymium-dysprosium from hard-drive magnets wastes, indium compounds micro- and nano-materials from low-melting point solders and copper compounds micro- and nano-materials from various wastes ."
“Electronics Waste Management in the United States Through 2009,” U.S. EPA, May 2011
USGS Fact Sheet FS-060-01 July 2001. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs060-01/
Critical Metals for Future Sustainable Technologies and Their Recycling Potential, United National Environment Program
Department of Energy. Chapter 6: Innovating Clean Energy Technologies in Advanced Manufacturing, 6F: Critical Materials; 2015; p Quadrennial Technology Review 2015
Graedel, T. E., Harper, E. M., Nassar, N. T., Nuss, P. & Reck, B. K. Criticality of metals and metalloids. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112, 4257-4262, doi:10.1073/pnas.1500415112 (2015).
RETA The economic benefits of the North America Rare Earths Industry
Critical Materials in Global Nanotechnology Markets, BCC Research
Metal Recycling Market by Metal Type (Ferrous, Non-Ferrous), by Scrap Type (Old Scrap, New Scrap), by End-Use Sector (Construction, Automotive, Equipment Manufacturing, Shipbuilding, Others), by Equipment (Shredders, Granulating Machines, Others) - Forecast to 2020, marketsandmarkets.com