an official journal of: published by:
an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Silvia Serranti - DICMA, Department of Chemical Engineering, Materials and Environment, Sapienza - University of Rome, Italy
  • Giuseppe Capobianco - DICMA, Department of Chemical Engineering, Materials and Environment, Sapienza - University of Rome, Italy
  • Giuseppe Bonifazi - DICMA, Department of Chemical Engineering, Materials and Environment, Sapienza - University of Rome, Italy

Released under CC BY-NC-ND

Copyright: © Cisa Publisher


A novel approach, based on micro X-ray fluorescence (µXRF), was developed to define an efficient and fast automatic recognition procedure finalized to detect and topologically assess the presence of the different elements in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). More specifically, selected end-of-life (EOL) iPhone printed circuit boards (PCB) were investigated, whose technological improvement during time, can dramatically influence the recycling strategies (i.e. presence of different electronic components, in terms of size, shape, disposition and related elemental content). The implemented µXRF-based techniques allow to preliminary set up simple and fast quality control strategies based on the full recognition and characterization of precious and rare earth elements as detected inside the electronic boards. Furthermore, the proposed approach allows to identify the presence and the physical-chemical attributes of the other materials (i.e. mainly polymers), influencing the further physical-mechanical processing steps addressed to realize a pre-concentration of the valuable elements inside the PCB milled fractions, before the final chemical recovery.


Editorial History

  • Received: 15 Jan 2018
  • Revised: 01 Mar 2018
  • Accepted: 19 Mar 2018
  • Available online: 31 Mar 2018


Ballabio D. and Consonni V. (2013). Classification tools in chemistry. Part 1: linear models. PLS-DA. Analytical Methods, 5(16), 3790-3798.

Bonifazi G., Serranti S., Potenza F., Luciani V. and Di Maio F. (2017) Gravity packaging final waste recovery based on gravity separation and chemical imaging control. Waste Management, 60, 50-55.

Bro R. and Smilde A. K. (2014). Principal component analysis. Analytical Methods, 6(9), 2812-2831.

Carvalho R.R.V, Coelho J.A.O, Santos J.M., Aquino F.W.B., Carneiro R.L., Pereira-Filho E.R. (2015). Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) combined with hyperspectral imaging for the evaluation of printed circuit board composition. 134(1), 278-283.Chakhmouradian A. R. and Wall F. (2012). Rare earth elements: minerals, mines, magnets (and more). Elements, 8(5), 333-340.

European Commission, (2008). COM 699 - The raw materials initiative–meeting our critical needs for growths and jobs in Europe. Brussels, SEC (2008), 2741.

De Vito I. E., Olsina R. A. and Masi A. N. (2000). Enrichment method for trace amounts of rare earth elements using chemofiltration and XRF determination. Fresenius' journal of analytical chemistry, 368(4), 392-396.

European Commission, 2010. Critical Raw Material for the EU – Report of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Defining Critical Raw Materials. European Commission (EC).

Figueroa R. G., Lozano E., Belmar F., Alcaman D., Bohlen A., Oliveira C. A. B., Silva A.L.M. and Veloso J.F.C.A. (2014). Characteristics of a robust and portable large area X‐ray fluorescence imaging system. X‐Ray Spectrometry, 43(2), 126-130.

Gallardo, H., Queralt, I., Tapias, J., Guerra, M., Carvalho, M. L. and Marguí, E. (2016). Possibilities of low-power X-ray fluorescence spectrometry methods for rapid multielemental analysis and imaging of vegetal foodstuffs. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 50, 1-9.

Guerra, M. B. B., Schaefer, C. E., de Carvalho, G. G., de Souza, P. F., Júnior, D. S., Nunes, L. C. and Krug, F. J. (2013). Evaluation of micro-energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry for the analysis of plant materials. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 28(7), 1096-1101.

Hagelüken C. and Corti C. W. (2010). Recycling of gold from electronics: Cost-effective use through ‘Design for Recycling’. Gold Bulletin, 43(3), 209-220.

Kumar K., Saion E., Halimah M. K., Yap C. K. and Hamzah M. S. (2014). Rare earth element (REE) in surface mangrove sediment by instrumental neutron activation analysis. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 301(3), 667-676.

Massari S. and Ruberti M. (2013). Rare earth elements as critical raw materials: Focus on international markets and future strategies. Resources Policy, 38(1), 36-43.

Nikonow, W. and Rammlmair, D. (2016). Risk and benefit of diffraction in Energy Dispersive X-ray fluorescence mapping. Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy, 125, 120-126.

Palmieri R., Bonifazi G. and Serranti S. (2014) Recycling-oriented characterization of plastic frames and printed circuit boards from mobile phones by electronic and chemical imaging. Waste Management, 34(11), 2120-2130.

Smoliński, A., Stempin, M. and Howaniec, N. (2016). Determination of rare earth elements in combustion ashes from selected Polish coal mines by wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy, 116, 63-74.

Tiess G. (2010). Minerals policy in Europe: Some recent developments. Resources Policy, 35(3), 190-198.

Zawisza A., Pytlakowska K., Feist B., Polowniak M. and Kita A. (2011). Determination of rare earth elements by spectroscopic techniques: a review. J. Anal. Atom. Spectrom., 26 (12), 2373–2390.

Zhang Y., Jiang, Z., He M. and Hu (B. 2007). Determination of trace rare earth elements in coal fly ash and atmospheric particulates by electrothermal vaporization inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry with slurry sampling. Environ. Pollut., 148 (2), 459–467

Zhou Y. and Qiu K. (2010). A new technology for recycling materials from waste printed circuit boards. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 175(1), 823-828.