Consumer Electronics and Recycling Industries Announce the Winners of the Second Recycling CRT Glass Challenge

During a session yesterday at the E-Scrap Conference, the Consumer Electronics Association(CEA)®, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI)®, and InnoCentive, the pioneer in crowdsourcing and open innovation, announced the winners of the second “CRT Challenge” to develop compelling economic and environmentally preferable solutions for recycling old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and monitors. The winning solution proposed using recycled CRT glass as a component for vitrification of nuclear waste. Vitrification involves the melting of nuclear waste materials with glass-forming additives so that the final vitreous product incorporates the waste contaminants.

There are significant volumes of nuclear waste currently planned to be vitrified, especially in the U.S. Dr. Thomas Engelhardt, who is a senior executive advisor to a major international investment fund and holds a doctoral degree in physical chemistry, developed the proposal. His graduate and postgraduate studies at various international research facilities have focused on the characterization of molecular liquids with X-ray, neutron and EXAFS spectroscopy. Dr. Engelhardt will receive a $10,000 award for his CRT Challenge solution.

The runner-up proposed a two-step solution: (1) conducting an extensive literature review on manufacturing processes for using CRT-related waste glass, including cost analysis (raw materials transport) and the impact on the environment; and, (2) creating an approach for developing a property/composition model for using CRT glass waste forms to treat nuclear wastes, by making chemical durable borosilicate glasses geologically stable. Dr. Mariano Velez, a senior research engineer at Mo-Sci Corp., will receive $5,000 for the runner-up solution. Dr. Velez holds a Ph.D. in ceramic engineering and has conducted glass research for more than 30 years, focusing on glasses with very high chemical durability, glass-reinforced polymer composites, materials manufacturing, design and properties optimization, use of nanoparticles and nanofibers, and evaluation of recycled and waste materials.

“These award-winning ideas are the latest step in determining how to responsibly recycle billions of pounds of lead-heavy CRT glass as consumers switch from CRT electronics to liquid crystal, light-emitting diode (LED) and plasma displays,” said Walter Alcorn, CEA vice president for environmental affairs and industry sustainability. “We applaud the winners and thank everyone who participated. CEA will continue to work with government agencies, manufacturers, retailers and recyclers to explore these and other emerging solutions throughout the industry.”

“The innovative solutions provided by the CRT Challenge present a great opportunity to expand and develop new markets for recycled CRT glass and help recyclers as the industry transitions from CRTs to newer display technologies,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “We applaud the winners and all those who participated, and thank CEA for their partnership in addressing this critical issue in the recycling industry.”

“It’s gratifying to see CEA and ISRI banding together to find more effective ways to recycle cathode ray tubes, some of the biggest offenders when it comes to the growing e-waste issue in America,” said Alpheus Bingham, Ph.D., founder and board member of InnoCentive. “The most recent CRT Challenge, as well as the winning responses, are a testament to the power of crowdsourcing solutions to difficult environmental problems. We look forward to following the progress of these proposed new approaches.”

CEA and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sponsored the first CRT Challenge in 2011, and it yielded three winners. Mario Rosato proposed a closed-loop process for separating lead from glass in a form with high market value for a variety of industries. Nulife Glass Processing Ltd. proposed a solution that utilizes an extremely energy efficient electrically heated furnace, uniquely designed to produce minimal emissions; and operates these furnaces in New York and the UK. The third winner was Robert Kirby, who submitted an idea for combining CRT glass with cement to create tile and bricks that are tested, labeled and sold specifically for applications where lead shielding is required, such as X-ray and fluoroscopy rooms.

CEA and ISRI will work with the winners of this year’s CRT Challenge to further understanding of these solutions among CRT stakeholders, with the goals of raising awareness, helping to create market demand for used CRT glass, and encouraging government consideration of these approaches.