Nowadays Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are widely utilized. They are applied as backlighting in Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and TV sets or as lighting equipments in homes, cars, instruments and street-lightning. End of life equipments are containing more and more LEDs. The recovery of valuable materials – such as Ga, Au, Cu etc. – from the LEDs is essential for the creating the circular economy. First task is the development of a proper recycling technology. Most of the researchers propose fully chemical or thermal-chemical pathway for the recycling of LEDs.
In the meantime our approach based on the thorough investigation of the structure and composition of LEDs, and shown in this paper, is the combination of mechanical and chemical techniques in order to recover more valuable products, as well as to facilitate the mass transfer. Our laboratory scale experiments are introduced, the final aim of which is Ga recovery in accordance with our above approach. It was experimentally proved that the LED chips contain Ga and can be recovered by mechanical processes along with copper-product. Ga is presented on the surface of the chips in GaN form. Mechano-chemical activation in high energy density stirred medium mill and the following acidic leaching resulted in the enrichment of 99.52% of gallium in the pregnant solution.
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