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Title: Syntheses, characterisation and applications of ionic liquids to recover materials from WEEE
Authors: Faivre, Romain
Advisors: Chaudhary, AJ
Scrimshaw, M
Keywords: Waste treatment
Microwave-assisted synthesis
Decabromodiphenyl ether
Green solvent
Publication Date: 2010
Publisher: Brunel University Institute for the Environment PhD Theses
Abstract: The recycling of materials from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is of great concern today, as increasing public awareness and the implementation of recent legislations have created a situation where industries need to 1) comply with the environmental regulations and 2) fulfil producers’ responsibility initiatives. In this context, the work described in this thesis investigates the applications of new leaching solvents, the ionic liquids (ILs), to recycle two materials, copper and decabromodiphenylether (DBDE), which are common in WEEE. A total of 18 ILs, methylimidazolium (MIM) and methylpyridinium (MPy) based, were prepared using a microwave-assisted method. These ILs were selected to allow characterisation of performance with respect to three parameters: hydrophobicity of the cation, polarity of a terminal functional group in the cation side chain, and the type of aromatic ring, in order to identify their effects on the solubility and extraction processes. All ILs were successfully characterised by IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and NMR. Hydrophobicity was measured by HPLC, and the retention factors compared to logP values predicted from Molinspiration. High correlation (>88%) was observed, which indicated that the predicted logP values were representative of the real hydrophobicity of the cation. Copper metal was not significantly dissolved in any of the ILs, and performance was therefore assessed with the dissolution of CuO. The dissolution tests were conducted at 70°C for ten minutes and the resultant solutions analysed for Cu by using atomic absorption spectroscopy. A short side chain and the presence of a strongly polarised functional group at the terminal position were required to achieve maximum dissolution. Furthermore, the short chain methylimidazolium system was better than methylpyridinium for dissolving CuO. Consequently, 1-(2-cyanoethyl)-1-methylimidazloium bromide was found to be the best solvent and dissolved 75.5 mg of Cu in one g of IL. High impact polystyrene (HIPS), containing 4.4% of DBDE, was prepared in order to test the extraction abilities of various non-substituted ILs. The extraction of DBDE from the polymer was conducted at 90°C for 2 h 45 min. The results indicated that high hydrophobicity was required to achieve the maximum extraction of DBDE, however, the percentage extraction remained very low (<10%). The low extraction was attributed to the fact that only the DBDE present on the outer surface of the polymer was extracted during the process. In spite of being more hydrophobic, MPy-based systems did not dissolve as much as MIM-based systems because they were more viscous. The high viscosity value actually hindered the diffusion process and ultimately reduced the extraction of DBDE. The effects of different factors on the extraction process were evaluated and the maximum extraction was achieved by using 1-octyl-3-methylimidazolium bromide at 110 °C. The results described in this thesis have identified and quantified the link between the structures of the ILs and extraction efficiencies in relation to their potential use for recovery of CuO and DBDE from WEEE. The recommendations for future work have also been identified. The results obtained in this work, however, have contributed to increase the knowledge about the properties of ILs and can be used in future research to design a large scale recycling process.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Institute for the Environment Theses

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