Behavior of Waste Printed Circuit Board (WPCB) Materials in the Copper Matte Smelting Process

Xingbang Wan, Jani Fellman, Ari Jokilaakso*, Lassi Klemettinen, Miikka Marjakoski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
228 Downloads (Pure)


The amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in the world has grown rapidly during recent decades, and with the depletion of primary ores, there is urgent need for industries to study new sources for metals. Waste printed circuit boards (WPCB) are a part of WEEE, which have a higher concentration of copper and precious metals when compared to primary ore sources. PCB materials can be processed using pyrometallurgical routes, and some industrial processes, such as copper flash smelting, have utilized this type of waste in limited amounts for years. For the purpose of recycling these materials through smelting processes, this work studied the behavior of WPCB scrap when dropped on top of molten slag. A series of experiments was carried out during this research at a temperature of 1350°C, in an inert atmosphere with different melting times. The time required for complete melting of the PCB pieces was 2–5 min, after which molten alloy droplets containing Cu, Pb, Sn, Ni, Au, and Ag formed and started descending toward the bottom of the crucible. The ceramic fraction of the PCB material mixed with slag and the polymer fraction was pyrolyzed during the high-temperature experiments. The results give an understanding of PCB melting behavior and their use as a part of the smelting furnace feed mixture. However, more research is needed to fully understand how the different elements affect the process as the amount of PCB in the feed increases. The physical behavior and distribution of PCB materials in fayalite slag during the smelting process are outlined, and the results of this work form a basis for future studies about the chemical reaction behavior and kinetics when PCB materials are introduced into the copper smelting process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number887
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Flash smelting
  • Melting behavior
  • WPCB


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