Printed circuit boards (PCBs), a typical end-of-life electronic waste, were collected from an E-waste recycling company located in the Netherlands. Cu and precious metal concentration analyses of the powdered PCBs confirm that the PCBs are multimetallic in nature, rich, but contain high concentrations of Cu, Au, Ag, Pd, and Pt. Ferric sulfate concentration (100 mM), agitation speed (300 rpm), temperature (20 °C), and solid-to-liquid ratio (10 g·L−1
) were found to be the optimum conditions for the maximum leaching of Cu from PCBs. The ferric sulfate leachates were further examined for selective recovery of Cu as copper sulfides. The important process variables of sulfide precipitation, such as lixiviant concentration and sulfide dosage were investigated and optimized 100 ppm of ferric sulfate and (copper:sulfide) 1:3 molar ratio, respectively. Over 95% of the dissolved Cu (from the multimetallic leachates) was selectively precipitated as copper sulfide under optimum conditions. The characterization of the copper sulfide precipitates by SEM-EDS analyses showed that the precipitates mainly consist of Cu and S. PCBs can thus be seen as a potential secondary resource for copper.
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