Novel tech to recycle silver, aluminum from end-of-life solar panels

Scientists from the University of Leicester in the UK have discovered a process to recover silver and aluminum from used PV cells that is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than current recycling processes using mineral acids.

Given the low cost of aluminum, there may be no economic interest in recovering it, but the aluminum salt solution could be used for wastewater treatment purposes, according to the scientists. “In the second step, the silver is dissolved from the solar cell using iron chloride, an oxidizing agent, in a choline chloride or calcium chloride brine, which takes around 10 minutes,” Zante explained, noting that the components of these two brines, or salt water, are found in chicken feed and grit used on roads to avoid ice, respectively, and are thus widely available, cheap, and low on toxicity.