Gallium to be recovered from LEDs
Recolight, a UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) compliance scheme for the lighting industry, has announced a new research project to recover gallium from LED lamps when they are recycled.
A consortium of six companies and institutions including Recolight, HSSMI, S2S Electronics, Envaqua, E.C. Williams, and the Institute of Material Finishing (IMF), will conduct the research. The project, named Recovery of Gallium Ionic Liquid (or ReGAIL) is partly financed by Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency.
Recolight CEO Nigel Harvey said “Currently, LED lamps only account for around 2% of the total tonnage of waste lamps collected in the UK. But this will rise significantly over the coming decade. That means timing of the ReGAIL is just right, giving us the opportunity to develop new methods to recover waste gallium before waste LEDs start to arise in large quantities.”
When waste LED lamps are recycled, there is no recovery of the gallium or gallium nitride they contain. By advancing existing gallium recycling methods and applying them to end-of-life LED lamps, the project seeks to establish a circular supply chain for gallium in the UK.
This will reduce the need for extracting raw gallium and increase the UK’s supply chain resilience and dependency on new resources.
Gallium is expected to replace silicon in critical power system semiconductors in the near future due to gallium’s comparatively superior characteristics including lower heat loss, and smaller space requirements.