iCycle® - Technology for e-waste recycling

Recycling of old electronic and electrical appliances

The iCycle® process is a thermochemical process for separating materials, especially composite materials. Plastics and other organic components are thermally decomposed in an oxygen-free atmosphere. In this way, the metals or fibers contained are gently exposed and at the same time energy sources rich in calorific value are obtained in the form of oil and gas. These can be used for the process's own energy supply.

Metal recovery from electronic scrap

With iCycle® technology, precious metals can be recovered from electronic scrap and its shredder residues. These are generated, for example, during the mechanical processing of end-of-life vehicles or electronic scrap. Although these fractions still contain valuable metals and energy, they are currently generally recycled thermally. 

The iCycle process enables metals to be sufficiently broken down from plastics. The resulting mixture of solids (carbonate) and metals can be fed directly into integrated copper smelters. Up to 20 individual metals can be recovered in this way.

At the same time, the plastic components contained in the composites, which are converted into oil and gas (pyrolysis gas) under the given process conditions, serve as an energy source for the self-sufficient operation of the plant and / or as a source of valuable chemical raw materials that can be isolated in downstream processes (chemical recycling).

Industrial-scale systems

At the Sulzbach-Rosenberg site, Fraunhofer UMSICHT has iCycle® plants ranging from pilot plant scale (0.5 kg/h) to industrial scale (70 kg/h).

In addition, appropriate infrastructure is available for upstream and downstream processing as well as meaningful analysis of the input materials and products.


Features and application of iCycle® technology

Schematic diagram of the iCycle pyrolysis reactor
Various WEEE input materials that have already been tested with iCycle .

Special characteristics

  • Patented, continuously operated screw reactor with optimum process conditions due to permanent wall contact of the feed material, precisely adjustable dwell time and heat supply into the feed material
  • Patented combined heat exchanger system that enables heat to be supplied via the surface of the screw reactor and via the inside of the screw reactor through a cyclical spherical heat exchanger
  • Prevention of clogging of the feed material in the heat exchanger through indirect heat transfer 
  • Prevention of tar formation and clogging of the condensation chambers thanks to innovative clarification unit
  • Rapid temperature ramp-up, skipping the critical temperature ranges for the formation of dioxins and furans
  • High process stability and system availability
  • Temperature of up to 700°C, adjustable dwell time 
  • Flexible scalability from 70 kg/h up to > 5t/h
  • Low pre-treatment requirements

Video about the iCycle® process