Green-friendly circuit board sheds its components in hot water

Discarded electronics, or e-waste, is one of the fastest growing environmental problems worldwide, but what if the circuit boards could be disassembled and recycled after a simple dunking in hot water?

That the idea behind the ReUSE unzippable circuit board technology being developed in Britain by its National Physics Laboratory. The boards are designed to withstand the normal heat cycle and moisture encountered in daily use. Then, at the end of the component's life, something called unzippable polymeric layers allows the boards to release their hold on the components following exposure to hot water. After soaking, you can simply scrape the components off the board like scraping barnacles from the hull of a boat.

Unlike traditional methods which result in only 2% component salvage, this method leaves 90% of the components in good condition, further enabling recycling. The method works with both rigid and flexible PCBs, but presumably only with surface mounted components.

This sounds really promising as a way to save heaps of e-waste in the future, and it's certainly easier than eating those digestible circuit boards.

Check out the video to see how the ReUSE circuit boards release their components.

Gizmag, via Treehugger

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