Geek’s peek - Why do circuit boards contain gold?
Electronic waste recycling is not a new business. Equally old is the process of extracting gold from redundant circuit boards. However, in the latter case, there have been some ambiguities and restrictions.
There is a solid scientific basis for using gold in the circuit boards. Also, we need to analyze the benefits of allowing gold extraction from the circuit boards. The purpose of this article is to answer the basic questions related to these topics.
Everyone knows about recycling of electronic waste. Interestingly, a significantly less percentage knows the fact that gold can be easily extracted by recycling electronic waste.
The internet has exposed everything to everyone, but there has been a clever attempt by the industry to hush the process of extracting the precious yellow metal. May be it is because the pillars of economic belief and power politics are intricately associated with gold. Unaccounted use of the extracted gold can create a mayhem if unrestricted, because our world is not comprised only of ethical people.
We find tons of material and ‘ho to’ manuals for extracting gold from circuit boards. Trust me; it is nothing but old school chemistry. Also, experts in the field of economics and political science can throw light on the fallouts of highlighting the extraction process and publicizing them.
But why in the first place do we find gold in our circuit boards? The answer to this question can be found in elementary physics taught in high schools and colleges at the first year itself. To start with, we must make ourselves familiar with the basic anatomy of a circuit board.
A circuit board can be described as a collection of various electrical elements combined and connected to serve a number of specific purposes. Simple it may sound, but not so in practical life. However, such an introduction should be sufficient for the purpose of this discussion.
Among the electrical elements, there are two types – the active elements that supplies electrical energy and the passive elements that consumes the electrical energy while doing meaningful tasks. Such tasks comprise of several functions like adjusting/controlling voltage levels and currents along different branches of a circuit. But to make this happen, we need to connect the circuit elements with metals, which are also known as good conductors of electricity.
The more the capacity to conduct electricity, the better is the conductor. Moreover, consumers or end users of electronic items need their machines to be fast. For the purpose of attaining the required speed of processing of information, high conductivity is an absolute prerequisite. This is where gold trumps other conductors. Also, channelizing currents through gold connectors reduces the heating affect appreciably.
Gold satisfies almost all criteria for a very good conductor of electricity. The yellow metal, primarily known for its use as ornaments, is a very crucial part of any high speed electrical switching circuits. The use of gold in such circuits have risen since the advent of digital electronics, where circuits are designed for taking decisions based on binary logic, i.e., 0 and 1. Such circuits demands extremely quick switching between ‘on’ and ‘off’ mode, thus allowing and blocking current flow as and when required.
If you are tired of physics, let’s turn our eyes to the ethical aspects of the business. Although we need to keep a check on unaccounted extraction, not everything is dark, as it seems to be. In fact, it has some merits also, which are worth mentioning.
Extraction of gold from circuit boards can be transformed into a very profitable business, if strong laws for governing the flow of cash can be implemented. Also, the gold obtained as a by-product of e-waste recycling can be used to create other circuit boards, thus reducing the extent to which we deplete gold reserves from the depths of the Earth. Recycling e-waste can be viewed in the light of an extremely eco-friendly business, if regulated in a proper manner.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Martin Luther is associated with Eplanet Enterprise LLC – a global, Boston based e-waste recycling firm. Besides recycling e-waste, the company is dedicated to the service of people by providing them safe options for data and other IT asset recovery. In his spare time, Martin loves creating new software.