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  • Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CloseWEEE (Integrated solutions for pre-processing electronic equipment, closing the loop of post-consumer high-grade plastics, and advanced recovery of critical raw materials antimony and graphite)
H2020

CloseWEEE Report Summary

Project ID: 641747
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.5.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CloseWEEE (Integrated solutions for pre-processing electronic equipment, closing the loop of post-consumer high-grade plastics, and advanced recovery of critical raw materials antimony and graphite)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2017-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The main goals of CloseWEEE are: (i) increase the recovery yield of under-recovered PC-ABS and ABS plastic fractions to 80% of their content in the WEEE plastic input; (ii) increase the application of recycled ABS in new EEE consumer lifestyle applications and test technical feasibility of PC-ABS by defining and production of suitable products with a minimum share of 20% recycled polymer; (iii) raise recovery yields of BFR and Sb2O3 to 80% of their content in the WEEE plastic input; (iv) minimize levels of hazardous compounds in any product fraction to levels, which meet the requirements specified by regulation and standards of manufacturing companies safely; (v) increase the recycling efficiency of waste Li-ion batteries to at least 50% weight of batteries, including the recovery of lithium and graphite, (vi) improve the flow of information to recyclers through RIC in order to make recycling procedures quicker and safer.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Efficient recovery of high quality segregated target polymer fractions (PC-ABS and ABS) by an innovative separation process including LIBS technology for sorting Bromine-free plastics, NIR/MIR sorting of plastics by polymer nature, mechanic/pneumatic separation steps, removal of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and washing and drying of the recovered samples. The Creasolv® technology was upscaled, the yields, purity and surface properties of the target polymers have been established.

CloseWEEE used bromine containing fractions as a source of plastic, bromine and the synergist antimony trioxide (Sb2O3). Results show, that a successful recovery of Antimony with a Sb2O3 content of 70 % has been achieved, also bromine and ABS were extracted.

The multi-steps Li-ion batteries recycling process, combining mechanical and (microwave) thermal pretreatment, mechanical separation and hydrometallurgical treatment. Compared with conventional recycling processes the developed hydro-thermal process exhibits higher recovery rate of lithium and graphite by reducing losts in slag or only thermal use in conventional pyro-metallurgical process.

Appropriate & eco-friendly upgrading of recovered materials to second-life applications such as alternative flame retardant systems and their impact on processing, fire, thermal and mechanical properties of recovered PC-ABS compounds have been studied. High quality ABS black, high gloss compound has been produced with a mixture of virgin materials, recycled materials, suitable impact modifiers and thermal stabilizers.

The RIC has received strong support from Hewlett-Packard (HP). However, other manufacturers did not follow this example. After extensive talks with manufacturers’ federations, it appeared that they preferred to explore other options for meeting the requirements on information provision as laid down in the WEEE directive. Alternative options for RIC are being considered such as using community-sourced content to improve e-waste treatment in developing countries.

The target properties of recovered plastic fractions, according to Phillips requirements, and their potential applications were established.

Increasing range and yields of recovered materials from WEEE streams, increasing energy efficiency of recycling processes, reduced environmental footprint measured by qualitative and quantitative indicators: Recovery efficiencies of PC-ABS and ABS fractions, as well as the target additives and minerals from brominated plastic fractions, and EoL Li-Ion batteries, respectively have been established.
Economic and Environmental Validation of the products and processes developed in CloseWEEE. An initial evaluation of the capital and operational expenditures was made for the plastic recovery fraction. Initial results on the Environmental impacts of PC-ABS and ABS recovery were obtained and analyzed.

Establishment of Ecodesign criteria for new EEE associated and establishment of support actions between labelling and GPP. Questionnaire catalogue was developed and electronic equipment manufacturers and actors from the end-of-life system have been interviewed. Based on the interview findings, ecodesign guidelines will be established, which aim to close the link between product design, materials selection and economically running treatment processes.

Development and deployment of an effective dissemination plan of the CloseWEEE results. CloseWEEE has been presented at various dissemination activities, incl. workshops, conferences and online channels.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Brominated and non-brominated fractions were generated for downstream processing. The bromine content presented by all bromine-free sorted fractions is below the limit established by the Directive RoHS.
The second approach involved a selective separation of the target polymers using the solvent based CreaSolv® approach. Solving parameters still need to be optimized for PC-ABS as the degradation of the polymer could not be prevented sufficiently. The purity of both polymers, however, as assessed by FTIR reached of 99%.
As an innovative alternative treatment route, in CloseWEEE, we used the brominated plastics as a source of plastics, bromine and the synergist antimony trioxide (Sb2O3). Results show, that a successful recovery of Antimony with a Sb2O3 content of 70 % has been achieved. The REACH conforming ABS has a high purity with a Br content of less than 700 ppm. The validation of recovered Sb2O3 used as a FR in a master-batch indicates even more effective performance than its virgin counterparts.
A novel recycling process has been designed, in order to raise the recovery rate of Li-ion batteries, especially the recovery of Lithium and graphite. Finally, the recovery of critical materials (Cu, Co, Li, graphite) at high yield has been achieved.
The effect of different flame retardant systems has been studied. The most promising FR candidates for compounding have been selected.
The RIC platform is an innovative documentation resource that is visual, cloud-based, and collaborative. The project team now considers suitable options for promoting the RIC such as using community-sourced content to improve e-waste treatment in developing countries. Several organizations active in developing countries have already expressed their interest in the platform.
CloseWEEE will contribute to the recovery of secondary raw materials manufactured from strategic non-renewable resources (oil) and to reintroduce them into the market in cradle to cradle applications. The recovery of certain polymer fractions such as PC-ABS or ABS and the flame retardants contained in them is being evaluated. The project is aimed to raise recovery yields of BFR and Sb2O3 to 80% of their content in the WEEE plastic input.
Li-Ion batteries are state-of-the-art for mobile IT equipment. One of the CloseWEEE objectives is the recovery of critical raw materials such as cobalt, lithium, and graphite from lithium-Ion batteries. CloseWEEE is aimed to significantly increase the recycling quota of battery materials. For instance, to reduce the losses of Co and graphite during treatment of waste Li-Ion batteries by at least 50%.
CloseWEEE will ultimately contribute to the overarching goals of the EIP.

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