Effect of ionic liquid [MIm]HSO4 on WPCB metal-enriched scraps refined by slurry electrolysis

  • Yaping Qi
  • Xiaoxia Yi
  • Yugai Zhang
  • Fansong Meng
  • Jiancheng Shu
  • Furong Xiu
  • Zhi Sun
  • Shuhui Sun
  • Mengjun ChenEmail author
Research Article


Waste printed circuit boards (WPCBs) are usually dismantled, crushed, and sorted to WPCB metal-enriched scraps, still containing an amount of non-metallic materials. This research used slurry electrolysis to refine these WPCB metal-enriched scraps and to examine if a standard ionic liquid, [MIm]HSO4, can replace H2SO4 in the system. The impact of the refinement process on metal migration and transformation is discussed in detail. The results demonstrated that metals in WPCB metal-enriched scraps could be successfully refined using slurry electrolysis, and [MIm]HSO4 can be used to replace H2SO4 in the system. When 80% of H2SO4 was replaced by [MIm]HSO4 (electrolyte of 200 mL, 30 g/L CuSO4·5H2O, 60 g/L NaCl, 130 g/L H2SO4, and 1.624 A for 4 h), the total metal recovery rate is 85%, and the purity, current efficiency, and particle size of cathode metal powder were 89%, 52%, and 3.77 μm, respectively. Moreover, the microstructure of the cathode metal powder was dendritic in the H2SO4-CuSO4-NaCl slurry electrolysis system, whereas at an 80% [MIm]HSO4 substitution rate slurry electrolysis system, the cathode metal powder was irregular and accumulated as small-sized spherical particles. Thus, replacing inorganic leaching solvents with ionic liquids may provide a potential choice for the resources in WPCB metal-enriched scraps.


WPCBs Ionic liquid Slurry electrolysis Metals and nonmetals Refining 


Funding information

The research is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21377104) and Research Fund of Southwest University of Science and Technology (14tdgk01, 17LZX422, 17LZXT05, 18LZX414).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Solid Waste Treatment and Resource Recycle, Ministry of EducationSouthwest University of Science and TechnologyMianyangChina
  2. 2.College of Geology & EnvironmentalXi’an University of Science and TechnologyXi’anChina
  3. 3.Institute of Process EngineeringChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Institute National de la Recherché Scientifique-ÉnergieMatériaux et TélécommunicationsVarennesCanada

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