Recent advances in the electronics sector and the short life-span of electronic products have triggered an exponential increase in the generation of electronic waste (E-waste). Effective recycling of E-waste has thus become a serious solid waste management challenge. E-waste management technologies include pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, and bioleaching. Determining the metal content of an E-waste sample is critical in evaluating the efficiency of a metal recovery method in E-waste recycling. However, E-waste is complex and of diverse origins. The lack of a standard digestion method for E-waste has resulted in difficulty in comparing the efficiencies of different metal recovery processes. In this study, several solid digestion protocols including American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)-D6357-11, United States Environment Protection Agency Solid Waste (US EPA SW) 846 Method 3050b, ultrasound-assisted, and microwave digestion methods were compared to determine the metal content (Ag, Al, Au, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb, Pd, Sn, and Zn) of electronic scrap materials (ESM) obtained from two different sources. The highest metal recovery (mg/g of ESM) was obtained using ASTM D6357-11 for most of the metals, which remained mainly bound to silicate fractions, while a microwave-assisted digestion protocol (MWD-2) was more effective in solubilizing Al, Pb, and Sn. The study highlights the need for a judicious selection of digestion protocol, and proposes steps for selecting an effective acid digestion method for ESM.
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