Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add one PCB and cook until dissolved.
Season as desired. 😉
It sounds like it could be the beginning of an interesting – albeit inedible – PCB soup. Yet, it is quite a bit more than that. It is a small step toward a circular economy and more sustainable future for the electronics industry.
So what’s it all about? We at Infineon teamed up with UK start-up Jiva Materials to use their innovative new Soluboard® – an eco-friendly alternative to traditional printed circuit board (PCB). Instead of relying on traditional glass-based fibers, Soluboard is made from natural fibers and encased in a non-toxic polymer. This unique polymer dissolves in hot water, leaving behind only its compostable organic materials and thus eliminating PCB waste. That’s not all though: the electronic components soldered onto the board can also be salvaged and reused or recycled, giving them a new lease on life.
Figure 1. Soluboard with Infineon power discretes before dissolving in hot water
According to Jonathan Swanston, CEO and co-founder of Jiva Materials, replacing FR-4 PCB materials with Soluboard would result in a 60 percent reduction in carbon emissions. So for each square meter of PCB, you can save 10.5 kg of carbon and 620 g of plastic with Soluboards.
Image 2. Soluboard with Infineon power discretes after dissolving in hot water
Infineon is already using Soluboard for three demo and evaluation boards and plans to expand its offering over the next few years. A total of more than 500 units are already in use to showcase the company’s power discretes portfolio, including one board that features components specifically for refrigerator applications. Based on the results of ongoing stress tests, we plan to provide guidance on the reuse and recycling of power semiconductors removed from Soluboards, which could significantly extend the lifetime of the electronic components.
Our decision to work with Soluboard isn't just about creating recyclable PCBs; it's about reshaping an entire industry. With the European Commission's "Green Deal" agenda top-of-mind, Infineon is proving that technology and sustainability can go hand in hand.
So, the next time you wish you could reduce your own carbon footprint, remember that we’re hard at work, cooking up innovative solutions like Soluboard to ensure a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable future.
Thanks to @NavariElisa for her contribution to this article!
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