RECOVERY OF LEAD AND NOBLE METALS AFTER PROCESSING PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARDS FROM CELL PHONES BY LEACHING WITH MIXTURES CONTAINING HYDROGEN FLUORIDE

This work examines the leaching of printed circuit boards (PCBs) from cell phones in aqueous solutions containing HF + H2O2 or HF + NaClO under mild experimental conditions. The PCBs were not ground but were previously treated with 6 mol L-1 NaOH at 50 ºC for 1 h to remove their soldering mask. The HF + H2O2 mixtures leached copper and base metals (except lead) at 35-40 ºC, leaving a solid residue containing lead and noble metals. Leaching was fastest (1 h) when HF and H2O2 concentrations were at least 5 mol L-1 and 3 mol L-1, respectively. The processing of the solid residue is also described in detail. It was leached with water at ~90 ºC followed by HNO3aq. at 25 ºC. Lead, palladium and silver were recovered in this order, leaving gold as final solid. After 1 h at 35-40 ºC, 5 mol L-1 HF + 0.3 mol L-1 NaClO mixtures leached the base metals, copper, gold and palladium. Gold was recovered by liquid-liquid extraction with methyl isobutyl ketone. Silver precipitated as chloride. This salt was isolated by leaching with NH3aq. Loss of fluoride ions (as HF) was below 0.5 wt.% after leaching and handling the solid residue.