Recycling Potentials of Precious Metals from End-of-Life Vehicle Parts by Selective Dismantling

Xu, G.; Yano, J.; Sakai, S. (2019) Environmental Science & Technology, 53(2): 733-742

ABSTRACT: Recycling of some minor but essential scarce metals used in vehicles may serve as an important strategy to strengthen sustainable management of natural resources. Accordingly, this study focused on five precious metals (PMs): Au, Ag, Pt, Pd, and Rh, in both end-of-life conventional and next-generation vehicles. To explore their recycling potentials in Japan, we developed substance flow and scenario analyses based on estimations of PM contents per end-of-life vehicle (ELV) and ELV generations. The study predicts that in Japan, from 2015 to 2040, the content of PMs per ELV will range from 2 to 6 g, and the annual amount of PMs in ELVs will remain largely stable, at 14−15 t, but the proportions of PMs utilized in different vehicles, parts, and components will gradually change; in particular, increased proportions will occur in the printed wiring boards (PWBs) of next-generation vehicles. The results also show that, in Japan, totals of 33−53% of PMs in
ELVs were recycled in 2015, and that by selective dismantling of PWBs and heating wires in the rear windows of ELVs, the recycling potentials of PMs could be optimally increased to a maximum of 62−83% by 2040.

Published online on Dec.11, 2018