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LCD recycling takes a step forward

Archiv – Scientists at the University of York in the UK are studying efficient means of managing and recycling waste liquid crystal displays (LCDs) commonly found in wide screen televisions, mobile phones and calculators, according to an article in the UK magazine Materials Recycling Week.Scientists at the University of York in the UK are studying efficient means of managing and recycling waste liquid crystal displays (LCDs) commonly found in wide screen televisions, mobile phones and calculators, according to an article in the UK magazine Materials Recycling Week. At present, there are thought to be no viable recovery techniques or fully safe disposal options for such materials.
Researchers from the university’s Department of Chemistry have developed a method of extracting the potentially hazardous waste liquid crystals from displays. Following a feasibility study, they have won a UK Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) competition to investigate ways of extracting and recycling liquid crystals from waste LCD devices. The £1.7 million project will receive 50% funding from the DTI, with the remainder coming from industry.
Project Leader at the University of York Dr Avtar Matharu says: ’The amount of LCD waste is increasing at an alarming rate and, with disposal in landfill or incineration no longer acceptable, new solutions were needed. We have developed a technology that offers a clean, efficient way to recover the mixture of liquid crystals from waste LCD devices. Once recovered, the liquid crystal mixture will be recycled into different LCDs or the mixture will be separated into individual components for re-sale.’€™ The three-year project is intended to culminate in the setting-up of a dedicated recycling plant.
Sales of LCD television sets are expected to reach around 100 million by 2009. Some five to six tonnes of liquid crystal waste are thought likely to be generated over the next few years, growing at a rate of 25-28% every five years. ‘€˜The potential is enormous,’€™ claims Dr Matharu. ‘€˜It’€™s the fastest growing waste in the EU.’€™
The university scientists are part of a consortium of nine partners including C-Tech Innovation, aXr, NIS, Active Dissembly Research, Glass Technology Services, Botanix, Engelhard Sales and Sims Group UK. As well as recycling the waste, aXr will look at whether the LCDs can be re-packaged for new uses such as thermostat displays if they are still in working order.
LCD screens are usually composed of two glass sheets; in between them is a thin film of viscous liquid crystal material which can comprise up to 20 different compounds of varying value.

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