The Sciences

Metaphorical Information Superhighway Recycled Into Literal Superhighway

DiscoblogBy Rachel CernanskyFeb 13, 2009 2:01 AM

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Used rubber tires and discarded glass have been recycled into asphalt for some time. Now, add old electronics to the creative, eco-friendly ingredient mix for the production of new road materials. Researchers in China have developed a process to recycle electronic hardware into a material that makes high-performance paving material that is cheaper, longer lasting, and more environmentally friendly than conventional asphalt.” Where most people see a global environmental crisis, the research team in China saw opportunity. Electronics are discarded by the millions of tons every year, and they contain toxic metals that make disposal difficult, hazardous, and controversial. The researchers report in a new study, however, that electronic circuit boards also contain glass fibers and plastic resins that would strengthen asphalt paving. They came up with a process to extract the toxic metals from circuit boards to create a fine, metal-free powder. They tried it out in laboratory testing, and said they found that the asphalt, when mixed with the powder, became stronger and less vulnerable to high temperatures than regular paving material. Related Content: 80beats: Government Report Slams EPA for Lax Regulation of Electronic Waste DISCOVER: 20 Things You Didn't Know About... Recycling

Image: flickr/sneak046

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