Bike-Powered Recycling System Could Clean up E-Waste Industry
June 25, 2012
Developing countries are overflowing with the cast-off electronics of the Western world. In poverty-stricken areas, recycling this e-waste is the only way some people can afford to live. They scour mountains of waste looking for electronic devices that can be broken down, their precious metals and other valuable components extracted and sold back into the loop.
Without proper tools or safety equipment to facilitate this recycling, most of these people simply melt devices down over open flames. This eliminates the plastic shells, making it easier to access the valuable elements within. Unfortunately, this is a dangerous practice which sends clouds of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. To reduce health risks without banning villagers from recycling, an engineer and industrial designer came up with a bike-powered solution that just might work.
Made from an old bicycle fitted with a special pedal-powered cable granulator, Esource gives individual recyclers a way to extract copper from electrical wires without burning the plastic. Wires are fed into the granulator while someone pedals the bicycle. Using water and a unique grinding tool the plastic is stripped away from the electrical wire, leaving the copper in tact.