Valorization of waste LCDs : LCDVal project is aimed at finding most economical and eco-friendly way to recover Indium from LCD screens

LCD-VAL is project ran by the Raw Materials Research Group Under Dr. Lisa O’Donoghue at the University of Limerick and funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.

From a research perspective the focus is to 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 working group report, July 2010 and updated Communication COM(2017) 490.  The liquid crystal panel once removed from the LCD display is a stand-alone component which contains two glass panels coated in CRM compounds 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. In Ireland, 6651 tonnes of TVs and Monitors were collected in 2011 with LCDs representing approximately 26,271 units of these. While, it is anticipated that global LCD sales will reach 217 million units by the end of 2013.   Given that many LCDs have a short lifespan a large amount of LCDs are made redundant each year and require proper disposal (70,000 tonnes in 2013). The WEEE and ROHS Directives, which all EU member states have to implement, stipulate that components containing mercury and liquid crystals must be removed from LCDs and avoided in production where possible.