LAS VEGAS, Nov. 14, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ATMI, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATMI) presented today a new process and system called eVOLV™ that represents a revolutionary and sustainable solution for recycling electronic waste (e-waste). The safe, cost-effective process is fully automated and uses energy-efficient methods in a scalable, closed-loop system. The presentation came on the second day of the e-Waste Management Summit in Las Vegas, NV, as part of a panel discussion that included Executive Director of the Basel Action Network and toxic trade activist Jim Puckett, and ATMI's Senior Director of Sustainable Technologies, Dr. Michael Korzenski.
Following green chemistry development principles, the eVOLV process and system was designed as a chemical-based, non-toxic approach that is environmentally benign. It was developed as a domestic solution for the recovery of precious metal resources and components from waste printed wiring boards (PWBs), or circuit boards, that would comply with government guidelines and be free from the restrictions and hazards of traditional "dirty" approaches.
The process includes de-soldering, component/chip recovery and metal reclaim, with 99% of most metals extracted, and at 99% purity. These metals, which include gold, silver, copper, palladium, lead and tin, can be recovered and redeployed significantly faster and safer than in most other processes and can re-enter the supply chain as "process-ready" materials.
The amount of e-waste being generated continues to be a growing global concern. According to industry sources, more than 50 million metric tons of e-waste is generated per year, with approximately 72 million metric tons projected by 2014. Much of it ends up in developing countries where toxic and dangerous processes are being utilized to recover precious metals and components.
ATMI, a company known for its specialty materials and packaging solutions for the semiconductor industry, has specific capabilities around designing selective chemistries that react only with targeted metals or materials. Many of its products have been used in the manufacturing of integrated circuits (computer chips) that end up in electronic devices, such as computers, cell phones, tablets, etc.
"ATMI is proud to have been a part of the microelectronics revolution that has led to the many useful devices we enjoy today," commented ATMI Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Doug Neugold. "However, these devices have an end-life, and we're faced now with the growing problem of e-waste. None of the existing methods for handling this are very sustainable or efficient, and in many cases actually pose significant health hazards. At the heart of our business is a strong desire to deliver efficient technologies, particularly those that involve process chemistries that are safer and deliver better performance. Our eVOLV system and process marks a great step in the direction of developing sustainable solutions to this serious challenge."
ATMI is currently processing waste circuit boards at its Danbury, CT headquarters using the eVOLV system. The system can be scaled to specific e-waste volume and throughput needs from small batch processing to many tons per hour. It is automated from front to back and includes a conveyor system to move boards through its chemical solutions.
The eVOLV chemistries were designed using the 12 principles of Green Chemistry, an approach developed and advocated by the Warner Babcock Institute of Green Chemistry. In the eVOLV process, chemistries used to extract the metals and components from the boards are less toxic than common orange juice.
"I have known ATMI for a long time and have been close to this effort," commented Dr. John Warner, President and Chief Technology Officer of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry. The eVOLV system is an excellent example of how green planning in chemistry design and development can lead to the kinds of technology solutions we envision are possible."
While representing less than 2% of the mass in U.S. landfills today, e-waste accounts for 70% of the heavy metals. Approximately 5% of e-waste by weight consists of PWBs and, while some are repaired and resold, most are shipped to destinations outside the U.S. for disposal. Those with high metal value are sold to overseas smelters. Those with low value are sent to Asia or Africa where the chips are manually de-soldered and the trace precious metals are collected either by dangerous open-burning or from chemical leaching using highly toxic chemicals such as hot aqua regia and cyanide—processes that have adverse environmental and personal health implications.
A leader in exposing global toxic trade issues, and a clean process advocate, Puckett helped found the Basel Action Network (BAN) to raise awareness on such conditions.
"We must address global toxic trade practices that put people and our natural resources at great risk. The e-waste dumping problem has become the pinnacle of environmental injustice," offered Puckett. "We need technologies that can allow us to cleanly, safely and legally manage our hazardous waste electronics as locally as possible."
While environmentally impactful, the commercial potential of the eVOLV solution is also compelling. For example, the resource recovery available from recycling one ton of used mobile phones, around 6,000 handsets, is about 3.5 kilograms of silver, 340 grams of gold, 140 grams of palladium and 130 kilograms of copper. The combined value is just over $25,000, which equates to around $4.2 billion annually. What's more, one metric ton of e-waste from personal computers contains more gold than that recovered from 17 tons of gold ore.
Development of the eVOLV system has been led by ATMI's Dr. Korzenski.
"We believe that less than 20% of e-waste is actually recycled, and much of that is done by smelting or dangerous chemical leaching and burning," he stated. "We have developed, and now demonstrated, a process that extracts maximum value from printed wiring boards in a safe and environmentally sound manner. Given the price of precious metals, the unattractiveness of continued mining of the Earth and the fact that existing methods are toxic, dangerous and unsustainable, we believe that the eVOLV system presents an attractive opportunity. We know of nothing comparable that currently exists—especially as a safe and legal domestic solution."
ATMI is currently responding to requests for demonstrations.
ATMI, Inc. provides specialty semiconductor materials, and safe, high-purity materials handling and delivery solutions designed to increase process efficiencies for the global semiconductor, flat panel, and life sciences industries. For more information, please visit http://www.atmi.com.
The ATMI, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=5254
About BAN Network
BAN is the world's only organization focused on confronting the global environmental injustice and economic inefficiency of toxic trade (toxic wastes, products and technologies) and its devastating impacts. Working at the nexus of human rights and environment, BAN confronts the issues of environmental justice at a macro level, preventing disproportionate and unsustainable dumping of the world's toxic waste and pollution on our global village's poorest residents. At the same time, BAN actively promotes the sustainable and just solutions to our consumption and waste crises — banning waste trade, while promoting green, toxic-free and democratic design of consumer products. For more information on BAN, please visit http://www.ban.org/.
About Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry
Founded by Jim Babcock, John Warner and Bill Kunzweiler in 2007, the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry is dedicated to the development of non-toxic, environ-mentally benign, and sustainable technological solutions for society. For more information on the institute, please visit http://www.warnerbabcock.com/.
ATMI, the ATMI logo and eVOLV are trademarks, or registered trademarks, of Advanced Technology Materials, Inc., in the United States, other countries or both.
Forward Looking Statements
Statements contained herein that relate to ATMI's future performance, including, without limitation, statements with respect to ATMI's anticipated results of operations or level of business for 2012 or any other future period, are forward-looking statements within the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are based on current expectations only and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, including, but not limited to, changes in semiconductor and life sciences industry growth (including, without limitation, wafer starts) or ATMI's markets; competition, problems, or delays developing, commercializing, and delivering new products; customer-driven pricing pressure; potential loss of key customers; problems or delays in integrating acquired operations and businesses; uncertainty in the credit and financial markets; ability to protect ATMI's proprietary technology; and other factors described in ATMI's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011 and other subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Such risks and uncertainties may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in our forward-looking statements. ATMI undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.