Recycling of Liquid Crystal Displays for Maximum Resource Recovery

EPA Grant Number: SU835327
Title: Recycling of Liquid Crystal Displays for Maximum Resource Recovery
Investigators: Zhao, Fu , Handwerker, Carol
Current Investigators: Zhao, Fu , Handwerker, Carol , Lagro, Adam R , Liu, Jili , Martin, Alyssa M , Mendis, Gamini , Zelinka, David L
Institution: Purdue University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $14,938
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , P3 Challenge Area - Green Infrastructure , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Hundreds of millions of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) will reach the end of their useful life in the next few years. Without proper treatment, these used LCDs could lead to serious damage to the environment in the developed and/or developing countries. Particularly, stringent regulation and high labor cost in developed countries may lead to illegal shipment to developing countries. Equipment and tools that enable fast disassembly of LCD to recover valuable components are critically needed to achieve profitable recycling in developed countries. This project aims at filling this critical technical gap by designing, fabricating, and demonstrating a set of equipments/tools.


In this project, a set of equipment and tools will be developed which will enable the mechanical removal of the front frame and back cover without the risk of breaking the backlight assembly. After recovering the metal frame, filter set, and circuit boards, the liquid crystal subassembly will be disassembled using mechanical separation under vacuum, ultrasonic solvent bath, pyrolysis, or a combination of the approaches. This allows the recovery of ITO-coated glass for reuse in other products. The equipments/tools can be adjusted for TVs and flat panel computer monitors with different screen size made by all major companies. By recovering resources to the maximum degree, recycling used LCDs in the US will be made profitable by using the equipment and tools developed. During this project, we will continue our efforts on developing education materials on e-waste to promote sustainability on Purdue campus. We will work closely with the Indiana E-Waste Program of Indiana Department Environmental Management (IDEM) to further our outreach efforts to communities e.g. K-12 schools, colleges, residents, businesses across Indiana.

Expected Results:

Deliverables of this project include equipment and tools specifically designed to disassemble LCDs with acceptable labor cost while recovering high value components. The equipment and tools fabricated will be developed with the help of USM-e, an e-waste recycler in Chicago, and tested at the USM-e facility. Field data will be collected to develop a business model to demonstrate the economic viability of LCD recycling. The team will also work with IDEM for industry dissemination. Recycling hundreds of millions of LCDs will also create new job opportunities in the US, reduce demand on virgin materials, and eliminate damages to the environment and improve human health conditions in developing countries due to e-waste export.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Waste to value, electronic waste recycling, resource recovery, industrial ecology, life cycle analysis, cost benefit analysis, global considerations

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report