Rare earths are used in electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers and energy-saving bulbs. However, they are scarce and cannot be recycled using eco-friendly methods. Complex and expensive mining, coupled with scarce supply, means that the prices of rare earths on the world market are rising steadily. Due to continuous technical advances, we can already predict that the supply situation for rare earths will become critical in future, which in turn could pose a threat to the development of innovative technologies.
The project partners aim to counter this trend using a new technology. This involves an approach that has never been used before: recycling by means of microorganisms (bacteria and algae). The goal of the international project partner consortium is to develop a practicable recycling technology in collaboration with regional industry, with a view to reclaiming rare earths from electronic waste and subsequently making the technology available to businesses. The consortium liaises regularly with its strategic partners, which guarantees that market needs and the technological limitations of business are taken into account in the development process.
The project is being funded as part of the EU’s INTERREG V-A Austria-Czech Republic programme.