In recent decades, Rare Earth Elements (REEs) have assumedfundamental place in the electrical and electronic (EE) industry as a result of the increasing interest in low-energy and intelligent technologies. Availability of those elements in limited area of the globe, the complexity of extraction processes and the high costs of their valorization negatively influence the supply chain to such an extent as to jeopardize the future offer of EE equipment. This issue is particularly acute in Europe where all REEs are imported, particularly from China that has a dominant position in the global market. To contrast this dependence and ensure a stable future demand, industrial stakeholders have embarked on an ambitious path aimed at recovering REEs from EEE waste. Indeed, the promotion of policies and measures for a circular economy has identified in urban mining the way to address this challenge.Cities are considered as a reserve of minerals, although applied research is still in its infancy and currently only 1% of REEs is recovered. Whilst handling waste, fluorescent lamps proves mainly challenging due to the presence of hazardous substances; however, they yield the highest purity rare-earth oxides. This article represents a preliminary multi-criteria analysis aimed at assessing the feasibility of launching an urban mining project based on the valorization of REEs from fluorescent lamps. The work is the result of the activities undertaken by the Italian WEEE company DISMECO in collaboration with the University of Bologna, paving the way for a more profitable circular economy for REEs.

VALORIZATION OF RARE EARTH ELEMENTS FROM END-OF-LIFE FLUORESCENT LAMPS: A CONTRIBUTION TO URBAN MINING

Alessandra Bonoli
;
Eleonora Foschi
2021

Abstract

In recent decades, Rare Earth Elements (REEs) have assumedfundamental place in the electrical and electronic (EE) industry as a result of the increasing interest in low-energy and intelligent technologies. Availability of those elements in limited area of the globe, the complexity of extraction processes and the high costs of their valorization negatively influence the supply chain to such an extent as to jeopardize the future offer of EE equipment. This issue is particularly acute in Europe where all REEs are imported, particularly from China that has a dominant position in the global market. To contrast this dependence and ensure a stable future demand, industrial stakeholders have embarked on an ambitious path aimed at recovering REEs from EEE waste. Indeed, the promotion of policies and measures for a circular economy has identified in urban mining the way to address this challenge.Cities are considered as a reserve of minerals, although applied research is still in its infancy and currently only 1% of REEs is recovered. Whilst handling waste, fluorescent lamps proves mainly challenging due to the presence of hazardous substances; however, they yield the highest purity rare-earth oxides. This article represents a preliminary multi-criteria analysis aimed at assessing the feasibility of launching an urban mining project based on the valorization of REEs from fluorescent lamps. The work is the result of the activities undertaken by the Italian WEEE company DISMECO in collaboration with the University of Bologna, paving the way for a more profitable circular economy for REEs.
Alessandra Bonoli, Werther Boninsegni, Eleonora Foschi
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/828605
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