Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Recycling of Liquid Crystal Displays for Maximum Resource Recovery

Presented by Dr. Fu Zhao - Associate Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University-West Lafayette

September 5, 2013

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Hundreds of millions of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) will reach their end of life in the next few years, and most of them have cold cathode fluorescent lamps as the backlights. These mercury containing backlights bring challenges to the end of life treatment of LCDs. Communications with electronic waste recyclers indicate that recycling LCDs using available equipment and tools is not profitable in U.S. due to high equipment/labor cost. With the support of an EPA P3 Phase I grant, our team at Purdue University developed a four-step procedure for LCD disassembling. Appropriate tools for these steps have been designed and fabricated and the team was able to limit the total disassembling time to less than 5 minutes, the breakeven time suggested by e-waste recyclers. All the tools can be readily built using low-cost tools available on the market. The disassembling time can be shortened further after optimization. Toward the end of the talk, lessons learned from the project and challenges associated with developing sustainable electronic products will be discussed.

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