Leaching of metals from end-of-life solar cells

Current trends in Sustainable Energy, Engineering, Materials and Environment
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Abstract

The issue of recycling waste solar cells is critical with regard to the expanded use of these cells, which increases waste production. Technology establishment for this recycling process is essential with respect to the valuable and hazardous metals present therein. In the present study, the leaching potentials of Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, Penicillium chrysogenum, and Penicillium simplicissimum were assessed for the recovery of metals from spent solar cells, with a focus on retrieval of the valuable metal Te. Batch experiments were performed to explore and compare the metal removal efficiencies of the aforementioned microorganisms using spent media. P. chrysogenum spent medium was found to be most effective, recovering 100% of B, Mg, Si, V, Ni, Zn, and Sr along with 93% of Te at 30 °C, 150 rpm and 1% (w/v) pulp density. Further optimization of the process parameters increased the leaching efficiency, and 100% of Te was recovered at the optimum conditions of 20 °C, 200 rpm shaking speed and 1% (w/v) pulp density. In addition, the recovery of aluminum increased from 31 to 89% upon process optimization. Thus, the process has considerable potential for metal recovery and is environmentally beneficial.

Keywords

Metal recovery Tellurium Solar cells Leaching Penicillium Fungus 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Power Mechanical EngineeringNational Tsing Hua UniversityHsinchuTaiwan ROC

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