Raw Materials and Metallurgy Group, University of Limerick
EPA Ireland Funded Project

LCDVAL project developing state of art recovery technologies for indium, a critical raw material

LCDVAL is a research project at the University of Limerick led by Dr. Lisa O’Donoghue researching the potential to access and recover particular metals from Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) with a specific focus on the Critical Raw Material (CRM) called indium. Indium tin oxide is used as the transparent electrode for the large majority of display technologies and is predominantly sourced from China. Recovering of the metal from end of life LCDs would represent a urban mine and source Europe with an internal supply chain of the key metal. LCDVAL is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland.

From a research perspective the focus is towards the Europe 2020 policy: One of Europe 2020’s flagship initiatives is Resource Efficiency which promotes extraction and recycling with the aim of using waste as a resource. It recognises the strategic importance of avoiding risks to supply of resources such as critical Raw Materials (CRM) which are contained within modern electronic equipment. CRM materials which are contained within the liquid crystal displays (LCDs) have been classified as such according to the Critical Raw materials for the EU, EC reported the update CRM list in September 2017. The liquid crystal panel once removed from the LCD display is a stand-alone component which contains two glass panels coated in CRM compounds (indium tin oxide) sandwiching liquid crystals. This liquid crystal panel has potential for urban mining for these critical materials which can be used in next generation display technology.

LCD’s are used in applications ranging from small displays on machines up to 100-inch TV screens. TVs alone are purchased at a rate of 200 million per annum globally. The volume is staggering. This means CRM are required for the production of this devices but also potential available from end of life devices.