Million monitors and flat screen televisions (thin) will soon reach the end of its useful life or become obsolete, becoming a threat for the environment. However, a team of researchers is developing tools to help recycle these devices efficiently.

The liquid crystal displays (LCDs) manufactured before 2009 use fluorescent lighting cold cathode (CCFLs) to illuminate the screen backlight. The screens of this type contain mercury, which makes it dangerous to burn them or throw landfills.

fu zhao

During the coming years, it is estimated that hundreds of millions of LCD screens of this type are decommissioned each year. “Without treatment, these discarded liquid crystal displays could cause serious environmental damage,” says Fu Zhao, a professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.

He and his colleagues at the university, including Carol Handwerker, Professor of Materials Engineering, are working on an initiative to assist the industry in recycling these screens. The aim is to produce tools and equipment specifically designed for removing liquid crystal displays at a cost acceptable job, while recovering valuable components and reduces environmental risks.

The high costs of recycling equipment such as LCD screens in the U.S. and Europe have posed significant challenges in the management of electronic waste, but could soon come into play a new set of specialized tools with the task of efficiently removing screens liquid crystal. These tools could make recycling of liquid crystal displays profitable.

The hardware of liquid crystal displays usually has a lifespan of 10-20 years.

“However, due to rapid technological advances, monitors and televisions with LCD screen is obsolete much more quickly,” explains Zhao. “The life cycle of the devices is accelerating, partly because people want the latest products.”

Surveys of people who collect and/or recycle electronic waste indicate that already begin to discard monitors and televisions with LCD screen manufactured for four to five years.

Zhao believes that with appropriate technology push to make more profitable business, recycling of hundreds of millions of liquid crystal displays will create new jobs.

Since fluorescent lighting unit backlit contain mercury, this unit must be carefully extracted and sent to facilities where they can deal with it properly.

To access this unit, you must first remove the front cover. “Although you can use a screwdriver to remove the front cover, not the best because you run the risk of breaking the lighting unit with backlight, resulting in the escape of mercury,” says Zhao. “To minimize the chances of breaking the tubes, you should first develop a specific tool to open the cover.”

It also plans to develop another specialized tool to remove the back cover of the metal housing.

New tools and equipment will be tested by electronic waste recyclers, who will give their opinion on the usefulness of its use, addition, and data will be collected on site. The tools are used to perform more easily, quickly and accurately removing work of a monitor housing, separation of circuit boards and metal frames, and subsequently separating polarizing filters, glass, liquid crystal, and lighting unit with backlight contains mercury.