UK's National Physical Laboratory researchers developed a printed circuit board that falls apart when submerged in hot water. A few components including resistors, capacitors and IC's that can be found from the circuit board can merely be scraped off intact. Thus creating an option to recover, reuse and recycle certain parts of an equipments circuit board once it worns out.
This project is a part of Britain's ReUSE which is an abbreviation for Reusable, Unzippable, Sustainable Electronics. Unlike other typical printed circuit boards, this one is made of unzippable polymeric layers that can withstand daily heat, stress, humidity, and thermal cycling of a properly working device. Its components are said to be intact and won't come apart unless the user submerged it in a hot water. This invention can be applied in flat circuit boards, flexible and 3D configurations, that allows the user to disassemble, reuse and recycle all the components used in the board at the end of its usable life.
According to a lab test conducted by Gizmag, "In lab tests, it was found that 90 percent of the original circuit board components could be salvaged. By contrast, according to NPL, just two percent of the material in existing circuit boards can be re-used."
It's refreshing to know inventions and projects like this that promotes reusing, recycling and sustainability. Especially nowadays that the amount of electronic wastes is certainly getting bigger and becoming more of a serious matter. Aside from different organizations and councils around US that accepts old equipments that can be salvage, like for example printer consumables that are recycled producing eco-friendly toner cartridges. This invention will come a long way, and if I may suggest, if they can increase the percentage of materials that can be reuse from the circuit board then it would be better.