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Recycled Electronic Waste Could Be Used to Make Steel Harder

The studies by the Center for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (CSMRT) at the University of New South Wales found that hybrid materials obtained from recycled electronic waste could be used as protective coating for steel. This could significantly boost the hardness of steel material.

According to the study, electronic waste consists of several valuable elements, which could be used to create new products. For instance, certain categories of e-waste such as printed circuit boards (PCBs) contains up to 20% copper, as compared with 3% copper content in ore.

The copper and silica compounds found in old PCBs and computer monitors were extracted and combined together a new hybrid material with increased durability. This material could be used as protective layer on steel, which in turn will protect it from corrosion and wear. In addition, the protective coating using the micron-thick hybrid material could boost the surface hardness of steel by nearly 125%. The layer was found to remain firmly bonded to the steel surface, if struck with a nano-sized indenter.

Veena Sahajwalla, founding director, CSMRT noted that the study findings could shift focus of raw materials sourcing from mining to landfills that contain various waste including electronic waste.

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