Skip to Content
Find More Like This
Return to Search

Electrochemical Recycling Electronic Constituents of Value (E-RECOV)

A process for recovering metals from electronic waste

Idaho National Laboratory

Contact INL About This Technology


PDF Document PublicationTechnology Summary Poster (4,219 KB)

PDF Document Publication8ERECOV.pdf (1,015 KB)

Technology Marketing Summary

End-of-life electronic devices such as smart phones, computers, televisions and other electronics contain significant amounts of valuable metals including base metals (zinc, tin, lead, nickel and copper) as well as precious metals (silver, gold and palladium) along with rare earth magnets (neodymium, yttrium, samarium). Some electronic scrap is currently landfilled or incinerated and there is a need to develop more effective processes to capture these valuable metals along with keeping them out of the environment. The bulk of electronics processed for metal recovery are sent overseas, using unsustainable acid-solution leaching or toxic smelting processes that lack environmental and worker safety practices. In many cases, only the precious metals such as gold and palladium are targeted.  


BEA has developed methods and systems to recover metals from electronic waste using a multiple reactor system incorporating multiple electrolytes and an electrochemical cell for processing the electrolyte. The method efficiently dissolves the bulk of metals from electronics leading to more complete recovery for recyclable materials.



This INL developed technology, known as Electrochemical Recovery (ER) allows “e-waste” aggregators to reclaim more value materials, reduce reagent use and lessen the toxicity of remaining materials compared with current practices for salvage of metals from waste electronics. The ER process also efficiently recovers and separates base metals copper and, tin and silver, which are valuable products.  The process allows the precious metals silver, gold and palladium to be recovered in a separate follow-up step which drives the economic viability of the proposed system.  The ER process continuously regenerates the initial oxidizer at the anode, giving the process solution a long life, resulting in significant savings in reagents and waste treatment.

More Information


This technology has been tested and validated at the bench scale. Additional development will be required to demonstrate a pilot scale process. BEA may be in a position to support additional research and development of this technology under a mutually acceptable Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA), Strategic Partnership Projects (SPP), or similar agreement subject to prior approval by DOE.

This invention has associated intellectual property filing Patent Application No.  14/845,101, "Methods for Recovering Metals From Electronic Waste, and Related Systems" which was submitted to the USPTO by BEA on September 3, 2015 and currently unpublished.

A potential licensing opportunity exists with Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC (BEA), P.O. Box 1625, Idaho Falls, ID 83415-3805, the Management and Operating Contractor for the Department of Energy (DOE) at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).  BEA is seeking parties interested in potentially entering into a license agreement for the purpose of commercializing the technology described below.  BEA does not make any representations, provide any warranties, or otherwise endorse or guarantee the suitability of this intellectual property to a licensee's specific needs. 


Recovery of critical and value metals from mobile electronics enabled by electrochemical processing


Comprehensive process for the recovery of value and critical materials from electronic waste:


Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 9,777,346
Methods for recovering metals from electronic waste, and related systems
A method of recovering metals from electronic waste comprises providing a powder comprising electronic waste in at least a first reactor and a second reactor and providing an electrolyte comprising at least ferric ions in an electrochemical cell in fluid communication with the first reactor and the second reactor. The method further includes contacting the powders within the first reactor and the second reactor with the electrolyte to dissolve at least one base metal from each reactor into the electrolyte and reduce at least some of the ferric ions to ferrous ions. The ferrous ions are oxidized at an anode of the electrochemical cell to regenerate the ferric ions. The powder within the second reactor comprises a higher weight percent of the at least one base metal than the powder in the first reactor. Additional methods of recovering metals from electronic waste are also described, as well as an apparatus of recovering metals from electronic waste.
Idaho National Laboratory 10/03/2017
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
BA-837Development - Bench scaleAvailable05/12/201607/13/2017

Contact INL About This Technology

To: Ryan Bills<>