DARPA advances critical element recovery from e-wasteS. Himmelstein | June 14, 2022
University research teams have been selected by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to advance its Recycling at the Point of Disposal (RPOD) program. Participants will develop and test platforms for extracting up to seven low-volume fraction critical elements that are not targeted in current electronic waste (e-waste) recovery systems.
The RPOD initiative seeks to develop small-footprint platforms with greatly reduced energy consumption and waste generation in the extraction process. Technology for both separation and coextraction of critical elements will ultimately be demonstrated in a benchtop hardware prototype.
In a collaboration with TG Companies LLC, Arizona State University will develop an improved hydrometallurgical process based on a combination of selective leaching and electrowinning. The regenerative process-based approach is geared to reduce the number of chemicals and associated waste generated by traditional processes.
Iowa State University will develop an innovative surface and interface engineering approach for driving alloy de-mixing to recover target materials of interest, and MIT researchers will utilize selectivity and specificity of forming sulfides from a mixture of elements in an electrochemical reduction scheme to recover high-purity, critical materials.
Successfully demonstrated, the platforms can be scaled up to address supply chain disruptions of critical elements sourced or processed abroad that are essential for high performance U.S. Department of Defense hardware.