The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking to electronics recycling for innovative ways to extract critical elements and help minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions.

End-of-life electronics (e-waste) can be utilized to extract minerals such as gold, silver, copper, palladium, rhodium, platinum, and tellurium. However, current extraction methods “are ill-suited to recover multiple low volume fraction elements typically found in e-waste,” DARPA said in a special notice.

DARPA aims to develop new extraction methods for DoD and commercial e-waste, aimed at improving extraction efficiency and purity.

“If successful, DARPA envisions that this technology could lead to novel innovations in recycling and manufacturing workflows to minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions to critical elements essential for high performance DoD hardware,” the notice says.

Each year, the world produces over 50 million tons of e-waste, according to a 2019 United Nations report. What’s more, only 20 percent of e-waste is formally recycled.

DARPA hopes to better utilize e-waste and will host an information session on its Recycling at the Point of Disposal disruption opportunity. DARPA will webcast the information session on Feb. 8 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST. Registration for the information session closes on Feb. 1 at 4:00 p.m. EST.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.