Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 26

Unzipping the future of
SUSTAINABLE
ELECTRONICS
A mountain of motherboards
being collected in Colombia:
In2Tec aims to help increase global
electronics recycling.
In2Tec brings an innovative closed-loop solution to the global e-waste problem.
by Lindsay Brooke
E
lectronic-systems designers are facing a serious reckoning:
How to significantly reduce the environmental impact of more
and more electronic content in new vehicles?
E-waste - the mountains of discarded electronic refuse piling
up all over the planet - is a global problem that is getting worse
each year (see sidebar). And while consumer electronics are the primary
constituent in e-waste, the auto industry is steadily exacerbating
the mess. With the addition of on-board processors for every new
function, and a sensor deluge with no end in sight, a typical passenger
vehicle can contain up to 200 electronic control units. Each ECU
has a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) that is difficult and costly
to disassemble and reclaim. While the scrapped boards have component
and material salvage value, most go to landfill, according to
the U.S. EPA.
Discrete solutions for recycling PCBAs and curbing the downstream
nightmare have been proposed by industry suppliers. One
company, In2Tec Ltd., an electronics designer and manufacturer, is
taking a broader view. Its leaders believe true sustainability in electronics
requires a circular-economy approach. Their solution combines
product innovation with closed-loop, low-impact PCBA manufacturing
and reprocessing that company engineers aim to demonstrate
in a pilot facility now under development.
" E-waste is becoming like the plastic-bag issue, driven by consumers
and government, " Neil Armstrong, In2Tec's group managing director,
said in an interview with SAE Media. To mitigate the waste stream at
its source, the auto industry needs to be proactive, he asserted, rather
than " being dragged kicking and screaming into confronting it. "
In2Tec's goal, he asserted, is to use its technology to deliver
PCBAs that have " the highest recyclability in the industry. " To do so,
the Kettering, U.K.-based company has focused on flexible-sub26
October 2022
strate technologies and sustainable electronic solutions
since its founding more than 25 years ago,
Armstrong stated. It serves an array of industrial sectors
including medical and aerospace, and counts
Porsche, Aston Martin, Konigsegg, and various
Formula 1 and World Rally teams as customers for its
package-efficient HMI solutions.
In2Tec has manufacturing plants in the U.K. and
China. But with one-third of its resources devoted to
R&D, the company has long recognized an opportunity
to shift the paradigm in PCBA manufacturing and reclamation
toward a sustainable model.
Hot-water separation
The new process has been in the works for 10 years.
With funding from Britain's Technology Strategy
Board (an innovation incubator) and in collaboration
with the National Physical Laboratory and Gwent
Electronic Materials, In2Tec has developed ReUSE,
described by the company as a trademarked " cradleto-grave
technology that delivers re-usable and undamaged
materials ready to provide secondary use. "
PCBAs made to the ReUSE spec are " unzippable-
meaning we utilize hot water [90-deg. C/194-deg. F],
applied within a three-to-six-minute cycle, to remove
the components from the flexible substrate, " CTO
Mark Hudman said. The overall process, most of
which is patent pending, consumes minimal energy. It
also results in a clean board surface and " provides
AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING
CRISTA CASTELLANOS/WIKICOMMONS

Automotive Engineering - October 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive Engineering - October 2022

Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - Intro
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - Sponsor1
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - CVRA
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - CVRB
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - CVR1
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - CVR2
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 1
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 2
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 3
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 4
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 5
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 6
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 7
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 8
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 9
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Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 11
Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 12
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Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - 14
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Automotive Engineering - October 2022 - CVR4
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