Medical use for waste LCD television screens
24 July 2009
Waste material from discarded televisions could be recycled and used
as scaffolds for tissue regeneration, according to new research by scientists at the University
of York .
The chemical compound polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA) is widely used in
industry and is a key element of television sets with liquid crystal
display (LCD) technology. When these sets are thrown away, the LCD
panels are usually incinerated or buried in landfill sites.
Researchers have now found a way of recovering PVA from television
screens and transforming it into a substance suitable for use in tissue
scaffolds which help parts of the body regenerate. They can also be used
in pills and dressings that are designed to deliver drugs to particular
parts of the body.
The research is by five academics in the University's Department of
Chemistry, which is home to the York Green Chemistry Centre of
Excellence and the York Liquid Crystal Group, and is published in the
journal Green Chemistry.
Professor James Clark, director of the York Green Chemistry Centre of
Excellence and one of the author's of the research, said: "With 2.5
billion liquid crystal displays already reaching the end of their life,
and LCD televisions proving hugely popular with consumers, that is a
huge amount of potential waste to manage.
"It is important that we find ways of recycling as many elements of
LCDs as possible so we don't simply have to resort to burying and
The researchers have developed a technique where recovered material
is heated in water in a microwave and washed in ethanol to produced
One of this material's key properties is that it does not provoke a
response from the human immune system, making it suitable for use in
The latest research is a development from a long term project funded
by the UK Technology Strategy Board, in which the University of York is
a partner, and that is examining the problems posed by LCD waste.
Andrew J. Hunt, Vitaly L. Budarin, Simon W. Breeden, Avtar S. Matharu
and James H. Clark. Expanding the potential for waste polyvinyl-alcohol.
Green Chem., 2009.
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