SCRIPT: We’re all buying electronics that are getting faster-better-cheaper, but what happens to the old ones? Components like resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits aren’t easy to recycle, so we’re like drowning in old electronics…but here’s a new idea in both electronics and recycling: the UK’s National Physical Laboratory has developed a printed circuit board that comes apart in hot water! The board is made of “unzippable polymeric layers” – whatever that is – and after dunking it in hot water, those resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits can simply be scraped off – ready to use again. Call us crazy, but this is a reeealy good idea! KEYWORDS: Today’s Green Minute, Jim Parks, environment, sustainability, climate change, global warming, electronics, components, resistors, capacitors, integrated circuits, recycling, UK, National Physical Laboratory, board, hot water, unzippable polymeric layers TEXT-WRAP: Phones, pads, and computers continue to be introduced at a dizzying rate, and with each new introduction, a previous version becomes obsolete, and “electronic waste” becomes more and more prevalent…so the more materials that can be recycled from the discarded devices, the better. An answer to “how can we better harvest those materials?” comes from the UK, where the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has come up with a printed circuit board that falls apart…but only when it’s dipped in hot water! The organization has developed circuit boards made out of what they're calling “unzippable polymeric layers” built to withstand the heat stressing and long-term thermal cycling, yet the layers easily come apart from each other when they come in contact with heated water. The resistors, capacitors and integrated circuits, which don’t have to be changed or adapted from their current formats in any way, are mounted on the boards, but after the contact with hot water, they can simply be scraped off, ready to be harvested and reused in other devices. The NPL says the technology can be applied to three-dimensional structures and flexible electronics as well as rigid circuit boards. Lab tests showed that 90% of the components can be reused, compared to the 2% that can be salvaged from current boards. The NPL project was undertaken as part of Britain’s ReUSE project, which stands for “Reuseable, Unzippable, Sustainable Electronics.”
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The UK’s National Physical Laboratory has developed a printed circuit board made of ‘unzippable polymeric layers’ that comes apart in hot water. Resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits can simply be scraped off and used again.

Credit: Today's Green Minute

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