Due to the demand of policies of many countries, there is a strong need to significantly reduce the number of waste electrical and electronic equipment (ewaste) accumulated at dump that are very dangerous for the environment. On the other hand, many crucial materials and elements can be recovered from these wastes. Rare earth metals are one of them.
The innovative concept presented in the RECOLA project is based on development of methodologies to extract rare earths (and other metals) from ewaste in order to allow efficient waste management and reintroduction economy of secondary raw materials. In our longterm vision, this work will be seminal for a new kind of technologies and will generate important opportunities for the industrial world, opening new possibility not present at this time. The goal is to organize and exploit the skills of the intermingled institutions providing the transnational network with particular fabrication of advanced materials, process design, novel separation technologies, and characterization tools. As the result of the project, the following items will be developed/obtained: physical, chemical and mechanical processes of ewaste treatment; specific nanostructured materials for metals extraction and separation; and recovered rare earth compounds, well characterized and ready for reuse. The new technologies will be evaluated by the recovery yield and purity of the separated metals. The analysis of the results will be used to estimate if the proposed processes are promising and may be profitable to be used in technological lines for rare earths recovery in the Partner’s countries. The overall objective is therefore to change the strategic material recovery procedure in a way that will allow economical benefits without affecting the environment.