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Toshiba Wastewater System to Recover Copper at Fujitsu Plant

Fujitsu has installed a Toshiba wastewater treatment system at its plant in Nagano, Japan that recovers copper particles using 75 percent fewer chemicals, to produce a high-concentration sludge that can be recycled at a profit.

Traditionally, a coagulant has been used to treat industrial wastewater that contains fine copper particles, generating a chemical-laden sludge. The Toshiba system uses a magnetic functional powder when filtering the wastewater, allowing an efficient recovery of copper without using any chemicals other than a neutralizing agent (see graphic).

The Nagano plant once generated 35 tons of sludge a month, containing processing chemicals and other impurities. Since it installed the Toshiba wastewater treatment system, the figure has dropped more than 85 percent to five tons a month of sludge with a high concentration of copper, which increases its value as a resource, Fujitsu said.

The magnets are used to separate the functional powder after filtration. The powder is then recycled and reused within the system, which reduces operational costs by 40 percent compared to previous methods, if the revenue earned from selling the sludge is factored in, Fujitsu said.

The processing time required also is shorter and the equipment takes up about 50 percent less space than the previous wastewater treatment system.

The new system is part of Fujitsu’s company-wide initiative to reduce the amount of waste it generates. The Fujitsu Nagano plant, which develops and produces printed circuit boards, has been working to improve the efficiency of copper recovery from the wastewater generated during its manufacturing process.

Fujitsu’s North American unit Frontech last month joined Casella Waste Systems’ Power of Three closed loop recycling service. The service, designed for customers aiming to create zero waste, picks up recycling, processes that recycling into new products and then provides those products back to customers in the form of hand towels, tissue paper and toiletry items.

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