Infineon Starts Using Water Soluble Boards For Better Recycling

The German chip manufacturer Infineon wants to be one of the first major electronics manufacturers to use a new printed circuit board material that is based on natural fibers and is easy to recycle or biodegrade.

compost and recycling

The material was developed by the British startup Jiva Materials. The natural fiberboard material is encapsulated in a non-toxic polymer that dissolves when immersed in hot water, leaving only compostable, organic material. The soldered electronic components and lines are released and can be recycled more easily than is the case with conventional boards.

The new Soluboard material will initially be used at Infineon for demo and evaluation boards. “For the first time, a recyclable, biodegradable printed circuit board material is used in consumer electronics and industrial designs – a milestone on the way to a greener future,” said Andreas Kopp from Infineon.

The developers of the material calculate that the introduction of a water-based recycling process will not only lead to greater efficiency in the recovery of valuable metals. “Furthermore, switching from FR-4 board materials to Soluboard would result in a 60 percent reduction in carbon emissions – specifically, 10.5kg of carbon and 620g of plastic could be saved per square meter of the board,” said Jonathan Swanston, CEO and co-founder by Jiva Materials.

Planning for all boards

Infineon first wants to gain some experience with the above-mentioned application of the Soluboard. However, they also want to work towards a broader use and in the future perhaps also switch all boards in mass production to the more sustainable material.

For Jiva, the board material should not end there. “We are also actively researching the reusability of discrete power devices at the end of their useful life, which would be another important step in promoting a circular economy in the electronics industry,” said Swanston.