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E-Waste and Battery Recycling: Technology, Design, and Challenges

European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) , Norwegian University of Science and Technology , Chalmers University of Technology and Chimie ParisTech - PSL via FutureLearn


See how recycling mobile devices is important to overall environmental design

Phones are an example of electronic devices with a short lifespan that contain many critical elements necessary for the production and storage of renewable energy and maintaining our standard of living. These resources are scarce and need to be recovered through recycling, which can be costly in terms of energy and emissions.

This four-week course from EIT RawMaterials introduces every element of WEEE recycling, from recycling lithium batteries to recovering plastics and trace metals. Current and emerging technologies will be examined to ensure a circular economy and good environmental design, now and well into the future.

Learn the basic principles of mobile phone recycling

During the first part of this course, you’ll cover the engineering aspects involved in mobile phone recycling. This includes identifying the mix and composition of materials.

You’ll also learn about the various recycling methods that are possible (dismantling, sorting, and element separation) and their associated risks and safety issues.

Understand the managerial aspects of recycling and eco-design

On the second part of this course, you’ll focus on mobile phone recycling strategies, learning how to use them to ensure intelligent environmental design.

You’ll see how incorporating eco-design principles leads to a sustainable circular economy, achieving the ultimate goal of less waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Be a part of sustainable environmental design

Ultimately, this course will show you how to deploy current and emerging technologies to deal with mobile phone WEEE in the most energy-efficient, emission-minimising ways possible.

After successfully completing this course, you’ll be equipped with the engineering and managerial knowledge to be part of the WEEE recycling solution.

This course is designed for anyone working in laboratories and industries that will include mobile phone recycling in their research and industrial programmes. Students, chemical sector professionals, technicians, and engineers will all find it helpful.


  • WEEE and their chemical content
    • European urban mining: resources and recycling
    • E-waste recycling across the globe
    • Lithium-ion batteries and their specific aspect
    • E-waste treatment and safety issues
    • Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
    • Reflection: WEEE and their chemical content
  • Industrial recycling and thermal methods of recycling
    • Mechanical processing and sorting on the industrial scale
    • Pyrometallurgical processing theory
    • Pyrometallurgical processing on the industrial scale
    • Industrial applications of WEEE processing
    • Hydrometallurgical processing of spent batteries
    • Conclusion on Week 2: physical methods and pyrometallurgy
  • Hydrometallurgy: how to recover materials from waste
    • Introduction to hydrometallurgy
    • Leaching
    • How metals are separated using precipitation
    • Solvent extraction of metals
    • Metal recovery through ion exchange (IX)
    • Conclusion of Week 3: Solution chemistry and hydrometallurgy
  • Emergent recycling methods
    • Extra challenges around rare and strategic raw materials
    • Selective separation of oxides
    • Scaling up and integrating new green emerging methods I: New chemical methods
    • Scaling up and integrating II: Advanced mechanical and thermal preparation
    • Future trends in battery recycling strategies
    • Conclusion on Week 4 on Emergent recycling methods and the future of recycling

Taught by

Philippe Barboux


4.7 rating at FutureLearn based on 9 ratings

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