July 28, 2006
Nokia develops "self-destructing" phones
"Today, most cell phones and other small electronics are shredded instead of taken apart for recycling, because the disassembly time is too expensive for the amount of material reclaimed. In contrast, a process called "active disassembly" is all about creating gadgets that can break into their component parts just by being exposed to heat or magnetism. It saves money, and the materials can be recovered more efficiently.
Here is Nokia's outline of the disassembly processes they are working on":
Nokia Research Center, together with a student group from Helsinki University of Technology, the Finnish School of Watchmaking and the University of Art and Design Helsinki have developed a process for heat disassembly of portable devices.
The idea is to disassemble a mobile phone by a heat-activated mechanism without any contact. By using a centralized heat source like laser heating, the shape memory alloy (SMA) actuator is activated, and the mobile phone covers are opened.
The battery, display, printed wiring board (PWB) and mechanical parts are separated and can then be recycled in their material specific recycling processes. The required temperature for the disassembly is 60-150 �C. If it were lower the phone could dismantle by itself, for instance in a hot car, and if it were higher the plastics would melt.
Laser heating is a feasible method due to its speed and precision. However, it requires investment in a proper disassembly line.
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