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Biodegradable circuit boards: Easier electronics recycling

Swatches | November 1, 2023 | By:

Circuit board showing electronic components on a biodegradable substrate made of natural fibers
The plant fibers comprising the Soluboard® circuit board make recycling electronics easier. Image: Infineon Technologies AG

Plants could help lower electronics waste and better recycle precious metals components thanks to the development of natural-fiber circuit boards. The Soluboard®, made of flax, jute and hemp encased in a water-soluble polymer, was created by Jiva Materials in England. Soluboard replaces circuit boards of fiberglass and resin, which have to be shredded and incinerated to recover the precious metals. The biodegradable boards delaminate when immersed in hot water. 

“Adopting a water-based recycling process could lead to higher yields in the recovery of valuable metals,” says Jonathan Swanston, CEO and co-founder of Jiva Materials. 

Currently, superconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG is using Soluboard circuit boards for demo and evaluation boards but plans to expand their use over the next few years. More than 500 are in use, including one board that features components for refrigerator applications. Based on the results of ongoing stress tests, the company plans to provide guidance on the reuse and recycling of power semiconductors removed from the circuit boards, which could extend the lifetime of the electronic components.

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