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Liquid crystal display re-use and recycling (ReLCD)

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Reuse and recyclation of liquid crystal displays

Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are used in everything from cell phones to electronic games to televisions, and sales of such are on the rise. EU-funded researchers developed novel reuse and recyclation methodologies that promise to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with incineration as well as contamination of wastewater from landfills.

Industrial Technologies

A large number of LCDs already sold are reaching their end-of-life stage. Currently, the only means of LCD disposal is incineration or landfill deposition. Both methods are expensive – incineration produces emissions linked to global warming and landfills raise issues of water contamination and difficulties in biodegradation. The European Commission has issued a directive calling for disassembly of LCDs with an area larger than 100 cm2. Thus, the ‘Liquid crystal display re-use and recycling’ (RELCD) project was initiated to develop new ways for maximum LCD recovery via reuse, recondition, remanufacture, recycling and disposal. First, researchers determined a fast and cost-effective procedure for determining whether LCDs were still working. They then developed technology to reintegrate working LCDs into repair and other production processes. To deal with non-working LCDs, investigators evaluated processing for reuse as well as recyclation. They identified two LCD components that could be reused after processing. For the rest, recyclation procedures considered included manual dismantling as well as mechanical treatment. Results from the laboratory-scale pilot system demonstrated that manual dismantling was the most effective recycling strategy in general. However, mechanical treatment was feasible for mercury-free LCDs. To meet the EC directive Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), the team created a test for hazardous substances as well as an environmentally friendly disassembly and recycling technology. RELCD also came up with guidelines for sustainable LCD design, manufacturing and recycling to be used in future models. Application of the project results should have significant impact on reducing the tremendous LCD contribution to WEEE and its incineration and disposal in landfills. This promises important benefits for manufacturers, consumers and the environment.

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