Recycling of various electrical and electronic cables to get valuable metals and materials


Rukshana Parween, Pankaj Kumar Choubey, Archana Kumari, Manis Kumar Jha

Metal Extraction & Recycling Division, CSIR-National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur-831007 India


Huge amounts of scrap cables are being generated from the end-of-life electrical and electronic equipments. These scrap cables containing significant amount of copper (Cu), aluminium (Al), iron (Fe), etc., require proper management in view of environmental protection and resource recycling. Present work is focused on different recycling techniques used to get valuable metals and materials from various scrap electrical and electronic cables/wires. In order to convert these scrap into valuables, pyro-hydro- and electrometallurgical processes are used depending upon the content of metals present in each scrap. Based on various research work carried out, pyrolysis followed by leaching and advance separation techniques is selected to be the best way to treat these cables. Wires are initially pyrolysed in a closed chamber and generated fumes are condensed back as low density oil (LD oil). From the pyrolysed materials, metallic and non-metallic part is separated using physical beneficiation methods. The non-metallic part termed as activated carbon is a salable product. The metallic fraction is put to pyro- or hydrometallurgical process of leaching to get the metals as ingot or as ions in solution. Further, solvent extraction (SX)/ ion exchange (IX) is used to get pure solution of individual metals. After this, precipitation, evaporation or electro-winning is used to get respective metal salts or sheets. Thus, instead of collecting metal values in improper manner, these techniques will be useful from environmental and economical viewpoint. Keywords: Cables; Copper (Cu); Pyrolysis; Leaching; Solvent Extraction; Precipitation.