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Posted on March 28, 2018 by Dr Peter Harrop

Avoiding Electronics Toxicants: Multibillion Dollar Opportunity

Toxicant Materials and Alternatives in Electronics
Alternatives to toxicants are an opportunity for tens of billions of dollars of business over the coming decade. That is just for electronics and electrics. Many toxicants are in, or arriving for, the manufacture, use, abuse and disposal of electronics and electrics over the coming decade. There is a flood of new electronic and electrical devices introducing toxicants very similar to those in tobacco smoke and diesel fumes and many not seen in either. Some devices containing them will sell at up to billions of units yearly with inevitably uncontrolled abuse and disposal.
There has been no overall assessment of what is arriving, appraising toxicity and, equally important, likely prevalence. However, uniquely, the new IDTechEx report, "Toxicant Materials and Alternatives in Electronics/ Electrics 2018-2028" now does that. Coverage is wide ranging. The reader can scan current and future devices and the toxicants they will contain and the business opportunities that provides for alternatives. Particularly, the report looks at use and abuse, the major opportunity for alternatives, but there is also coverage of hazards of manufacture and disposal.
Nickel cadmium batteries were banned but poisonous cadmium is reintroduced into daily life as huge sales of cadmium telluride photovoltaics on buildings and now millions of cadmium quantum dot television sets. The European Union has set a date for banning those television sets but most other jurisdictions have not - yet. LG and Samsung prefer indium-based quantum dots in their television sets and that will gain them sales.
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Peak lead acid battery occurs soon: the report says when and why and recommends action to avoid them still being around in 30 years because their disposal continues to cause unnecessary deaths. For example, over 140 million e-bikes and e-scooters in China and India have lead acid batteries and they are in millions of three wheel e-taxis from the Philippines to Bangladesh wearing out in only nine months. Poisonous lead is reappearing this year in the first commercialisation of perovskite windows generating electricity, transducers, actuators, sensors, new uses for lead zirconate titanate piezoelectrics and in other places.
Raghu Das CEO of IDTechEx says, "Lead replacement is a huge opportunity. For example, aluminium nitride, PVDF, and other piezoelectrics are being deployed in a small way with glycine demonstrating promise in the laboratory. Lead free perovskite photovoltaics is improving in the laboratory. Metal-free dye sensitised solar cells with no ruthenium have high efficiency in one laboratory. Polyoxymetallates may replace vanadium and bromine in redox flow batteries. These are only a few examples. Another is solid state electrolytes for lithium ion batteries which makes them non-flammable, better performing and less poisonous."
There are many more materials of concern, organic and inorganic, with physical or chemical poisonous action or both, that are appraised and tracked in the report, together with alternatives worth backing. Toluene and other dangerous volatile organic compounds VOC are used for electronic printing inks but Solvay Rhodiasolv is a biodegradable, ecofriendly, non-flammable alternative and GeorgiaTech demonstrates water based alternatives. Of course, with some devices such as bismuth telluride thermoelectrics and lithium-ion batteries there is no alternative anywhere near that can take most of the market but those are problems to be opportunity to be profitably addressed.
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Sometimes toxicant removal is aided by voluntary local bans on the poisonous product or eliminating the device in circuitry. For example, there are many toxicants in lithium-ion batteries and possible successors for some of them also contain toxicants. The report therefore has a chapter on battery elimination in electronics or electrics, another huge business opportunity. It has already led to over one million items from light switches to electric vehicles having no battery and several studies have recently shown that battery-free national grids will be viable. The report recommends greater priority for these many alternatives to toxicants and a redirection of research funding.
This report has dense summaries and infograms revealing the breadth of adoption and planned adoption of physically and chemically poisonous materials and particulates in electronics and electrical engineering. Make no mistake, this is a serious and escalating problem. There is even has a roadmap of introduction of toxicants in electronics and electrics from 2018-2028.
Learn the lessons from the inadequate response to asbestos, tobacco and diesel in the past and in detail how most of those toxicants and others are reappearing. The report explains why toxicity measurements it lists are suspect. Moderate toxicity declared on mice when the substance of wrong morphology is administered in the wrong way for the wrong time and damage is measured after the wrong interval is no cause for humans to relax. 38 elements and compounds are tabled with toxicity, pathologies and devices where they are used or will be used and comments by suppliers.
One chapter appraises materials being used in 37 families of emerging devices, 18 families of compound. It tables where they are and where they will be used in volume. The chemical elements of concern in overall electronics and electrics are compared. There are tables of inorganics, organics and where they will be used indicating levels of concern in the assessment of the authors. Allotropes of carbon are compared in likely popularity and issues.
Surface irritants including many of the new nanomaterials are physically poisonous materials that can often penetrate the human body and trigger changes leading to cancer and more. Although throughout the text there are alternatives given to the physical and chemical toxicants appearing in or promised in electronic and electrical devices, on chapter goes into depth on twelve other research programs of particular promise for toxicant replacement in devices. More detail on specific new devices is available from other IDTechEx reports on displays, flexible electronics, batteries and so on and from the "IDTechEx Show!" Berlin April 11-12 with 2500 paying delegates, 200+ exhibitors - many offering or researching non-poisonous alternatives. There are over 250 presentations in 9 conferences and 30 masterclasses on April 10 and 13.
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: IDTechEx Show! USA 2018 External Link on 14 - 15 Nov 2018 at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, USA hosted by IDTechEx.
Dr Peter Harrop

Authored By: Dr Peter Harrop


Posted on: March 28th 2018